Feelings of obligation, apathy common among voters

By Marlena Hartz : CNJ staff writer

On Tuesday, Tucumcari resident Larry Marshall will cast his vote in the general election. But behind his vote lies an eroded faith in the American political system.

“I don’t trust one politician,” Marshall, 43, said. He votes, he said, “because there is always a lesser of two evils.”

In Clovis and elsewhere, such lack of faith is common. It runs across party lines, across ages, races, genders, voters and non-voters.

On a Saturday afternoon, less than three days before the election, Nina Bjornsson peered up from her novel at a local bookstore. The Eastern New Mexico University professor described the American political system as a “nightmare.”

“It’s a system fueled by fear. People are willing to give up their civil liberties because they are afraid,” said Bjornsson, a 57-year-old citizen of Iceland.

In America, she said, polling places are often barren during elections because “people think it’s hopeless.”

“People think the political system is so big, so complex and powerful it doesn’t matter what they do and to a certain extent, they may be right,” she said.

On Tuesday, Ronnie Marez, 43, will vote. Yet, “there are a lot of problems with politics,” he admitted, noting aggressive political campaigns.

Clovis resident Nick Coronado will not vote Tuesday. The 35-year-old, who casually notes mudslinging this year has worsened, is estranged from politics, he said. The political system in America, he said, “is a little bit hopeless.”

Conversely, Clovis resident Joyce Gates faithfully votes. With a litany of concerns (immigration and inflated government spending top the list), Gates, 63, believes her vote can make a difference.

“I feel like (voting) is my privilege and my responsibility,” said the Republican.

Then, there are potential voters, such as Alfred Cordova, 37. The former Las Vegas, Nev., resident recently moved to Clovis. He said he wants to vote, but he doesn’t “know where to go.”