By Terry Gipson | June 14, 2020


Like so many who have recently protested, I want to see our government change course and do more to address the chronic racism and inequality that continue to beleaguer our country. I would like for all of us to keep right on marching into this year’s elections and vote for change. It would be a revolutionary transformation of our voting behavior.

Since 1964, the average turnout of eligible voters during a presidential year has been about 55%. We tend not to turn out in high numbers, and more often than not, we vote against change by supporting the status quo and electing the same people over and over. For example, we’ve reelected congressional incumbents, on average, 93% of the time during the last 28 election cycles.

Our voting behavior has enabled the continuation, and even growth, of destructive policies of inequality, discrimination, and mounting voter suppression over the last 56 years. Our prison system, which disproportionately houses poor and black Americans, has grown 700%. The top one percent of American earners have nearly doubled their share of national income while poverty in America has remained steady. The tax rate for the wealthiest American has tumbled from 77% to 37%, and the cost of a four-year public college degree has increased 3,000%.

We are in the midst of primary season and lots of candidates have stepped forward to offer us a change. It’s an exciting opportunity to revitalize our government with new ideas and positive energy. And, with no term limits, primaries are one of the most powerful tools we have to begin moving our country in a new direction.

New York State’s primary is June 23. Check with your local board of elections to find out how primaries are being run in your area. The New York State Board of Elections’ website provides directions on how every voter, due to coronavirus, can obtain an absentee ballot.

We have the power to make 2020 the year of record-breaking voter participation and transformative change. If we truly want to move our country in a new direction, history shows that we must change our behavior and stop voting for more of the same.

Terry Gipson is a former New York State Senator and a Communications Professor at SUNY New Paltz and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. To learn more, visit terrygipsonny.com.