October 25, 2012
The re-election of incumbent Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was disappointing, given Chavez’s aggressive stance against U.S. interests during his time in office. Even so, the election carried at least one silver lining. After Chavez’s government closed its consulate in Miami as part of a diplomatic dispute, thousands of Venezuelan expatriates living in the Miami area had no easy way to cast absentee ballots for their country’s presidential election.
Undeterred, an estimated 7,000 Venezuelans drove from Miami to the nearest open consulate in New Orleans to vote for their country’s next leader. Most of the expatriates making the road trip seemed to support Chavez’s challenger in the race, Henrique Capriles.
We were deeply impressed that so many Venezuelans would be willing to drive so far to cast a ballot in a presidential race.
That made us wonder how many U.S. citizens would be willing to do the same thing to carry out their civic duty.
Sadly, too many of us fail to vote even when there’s a polling station right down the street. That’s a sad commentary on civic engagement in this country. We hope the example of the Venezuelan voter caravan between Florida and Louisiana inspires more U.S. citizens to take their voting rights seriously.