Democracy rejected in one word - Greg Gelpi

A one-syllable word could have been the passport to democracy, but they declined.

Without a second thought, one after one rejected the offer to be part of the political process.

I've witnessed more deliberation when customers are asked if they would like fries with their orders.

I've see more enthusiasm about hit television shows.

When it came to registering to vote, the blank faces replaced excitement and the fervor to say "yes" was replaced with a bleak "no."

Sitting at the driver's license office Saturday, waiting my turn not so patiently to get a Georgia license, my attention focused on the stream of people waiting about an hour to get a license.

Filling out paperwork and laying down money, they wandered from line to line, obeying the loudspeaker that called their numbers.

Finally, they wound up in a line near me, the final line where they posed for the camera and received a driver's license.

Excitedly, the attendant asked each person in line about registering to vote. It was a simple yes or no question. It didn't cost anything. There were no catches or strings attached. There weren't even volumes of paperwork to fill out.

Despite this, a procession of "no, no and no" was all that I heard in my time sitting and waiting.

There is a sharp distinction between registering to vote and actually voting. Even if they had chosen to register, there would be no guarantee that they would actually vote.

There's no excuse not to vote, but things do come up at the last minute. People get sick, cars break down and the list goes on.

Yet, those at the driver's license office rejected even the opportunity to vote. They were proactive in saying they didn't want to be involved in democracy and didn't want their voice heard.

They already filled out all of the required forms and waited through all of the necessary lines. The attendant just needed that one word.

To compound the situation, many of those would-be-voters were 20-somethings like myself. It's a foreboding sign for the future of America.

Luckily, there are no major elections on the horizon. That little thing called a presidential election is predicted to be a landslide as John Kerry and George W. Bush are within a few percentage points of each other in the latest polls.

Fortunately, there is no need for people to get involved in politics and that arduous task of voting. The economy is booming. The war on terror is all but won. Healthcare will most assuredly be provided to everyone without our input.

If not obvious, all that was sarcasm.

Every election and, as the last presidential election demonstrated, every vote is important. With the volatility of Wall Street, the job market, world politics and the war on terror, this election could prove to be even more important.

Maybe my concern is all for naught. Maybe the same people I saw Saturday will drive back to the driver's license office or another voter registration site, wait in more lines and fill out more paperwork in order to vote. The fact that they didn't take time or make the effort to say "yes" should be no indication that they won't vote.

Greg Gelpi covers education for the News Daily. He can be reached at ggelpi@news-daily.com or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247.