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Speaker explores question: Why don't people vote?

Ex-reporter Bill Cohen will speak at League of Women Voters dinner

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The guest speaker for the Sept. 12 annual dinner meeting of the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus plans to address the topic, "Reflections on the Non-Voter."

"The League of Women Voters often campaigns for voter rights," said Bill Cohen, who recently retired as chief of the Ohio Public Radio Statehouse Bureau. "I want to talk about voter responsibilities. I want to talk about non-voters, and why I think people should vote.

"Many people, many Americans in the past, have sacrificed so that we would have the right to vote, and it's up to us to use that right."

Cohen's planned topic dovetails nicely with the mission of the organization, according to the president of the local chapter.

"As the League of Women Voters, voter participation is our biggest concern, and our main objective is to get more people to participate in voting," Amy Pulles said.

The dinner portion of the meeting will get underway at 6 p.m. at the Clintonville Woman's Club, 3951 N. High St., but Cohen's talk at 7:30 p.m. is open to the public at no charge.

Pulles asked those who plan to attend the speech to call the league at 614-837-1089 or send an email to voter@lwvcols.org.

Cohen, a Clintonville resident who was with Ohio Public Radio for 42 years, said he will present an issue that has concerned him for many years, and according to the league's website, his talk will offer "new views and perspectives."

"I'm just observing," Cohen said last week. "I don't have any particular authority or anything."

Nevertheless, he said he wants to focus attention on the increasing percentage of people who don't participate, for whatever reason, in the electoral process.

"No matter how wide the door has opened for people to have the right to vote, we still have millions of people who don't walk through that door," Cohen said.

"People around the world have died fighting for the right to vote, and people in this country have died to preserve our right to fight or gain the right to vote, and that's why it's so remarkable that so many Americans don't use that right."

The former radio reporter said he plans to link this lack of participation with the Women's Suffrage and Civil Rights movements, and the ways in which these efforts to gain people the right to go to the polls who were once denied the opportunity presents an obligation and even a responsibility to take advantage of what was accomplished.

Cohen added that he had enjoyed his long career with Ohio Public Radio, but simply felt that retirement beckoned.

"I got a Medicare card in March, and I kind of took that as a hint that it was time to move on," he said.

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