How do you get more people to get out and vote? Just put marijuana on the ballot.
That's according to NPR, which says recreational marijuana is on the ballot this year in five states -- Maine, California, Nevada, Arizona, and Massachusetts.
Our country's more relaxed stance on marijuana is budding more questions about its use. Is it safe for pregnant women? Will it create more dangers on our roads from people driving while high? What are the long-term effects on the brain, particularly with young users?
People who want marijuana to be legal, which I imagine must be mostly marijuana users, have all types of arguments to lessen the dangers of marijuana. People who don't want marijuana to be legal have all types of arguments to enhance the dangers of marijuana.
My main concern is I don't want America to go to pot.
I mention all this not to suggest I want recreational marijuana to make the ballot in Tennessee. Rather, I'd like there to be something on the ballot that interests voters enough to get them to the polls.
Perhaps the chance to have liquor stores in McMinnville will provide a shot to our apathetic electorate. I hope so because the most recent election in August was embarrassing in terms of voter turnout when just 18.1 percent of Warren County's registered voters cast a ballot.
To make those numbers even worse, not even 60 percent of our eligible voters are registered. Here's a glimpse at the numbers:
• Warren County has 39,839 residents, according to the most recent U.S. Census.
• Of those residents, 30,140 are age 18 or older and eligible to vote.
• Of those residents, 18,022 are actually registered to vote, according to our Election Commission.
• Of those, only 3,267 people voted in the most recent election in August.
When all is said and done, it means only about 10 percent of all eligible Warren County voters went to the polls and voted in the August election. That means 90 percent of our population doesn't care enough to make a five-minute commitment and vote.
It's important to note five minutes is a completely accurate estimate. I haven't missed voting in an election in well over a decade and I can safely say the process has never taken more than five minutes.
You'll spend more time in the liquor store trying to determine which vodka to buy.
All this may seem terribly trivial, but it's concerning to me when a huge segment of our population doesn't care which direction our community takes. How can we move forward when nobody cares?
But maybe I'm getting all worked up over nothing and I should just relax and take a chill pill. I'm not sure if that's legal or not, so I think recreational chill pills should be on the ballot. Maybe that will encourage people to vote.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.