What a wacky world it is.
The day after Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers publicly announced what most Mainers already knew — that there is no proven voter fraud among the state’s college students — a report titled “Civic Life in America” was released naming Maine tops in the nation in the percentage of registered voters who actually vote.
Maine’s civic engagement is moderate in most other measures evaluated in this report, except for voting. In Maine, where 75 percent of voting-age residents are registered to vote, we rank “first in the nation with 58 percent participation among registered voters,” according to the report.
That’s a statistic to be proud of and is proof that Mainers take seriously their civic responsibility to go to the polls.
That’s what makes Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster’s accusations — that any segment of this state’s population would engage in voter fraud — so ugly.
Maine people are involved citizens. We vote. We volunteer. We are engaged in our communities, our politics and our schools.
According to the annual report, compiled by the National Conference on Citizenship and the Corporation for National and Community Service, 32.8 percent of Mainers volunteer in their communities, ranking us 16th in the nation.
That makes Mainers more likely than most to be in what the report calls a “reinforcing cycle,” which means that people who are engaged in one aspect of civic life — like volunteering — are more likely to get involved in groups, contact public officials or work with their neighbors to fix community problems. And, as we feel a deeper connection to our communities, that cycle gets stronger and civic involvement deepens.
Not only do a large percentage of us do volunteer work, 51.4 percent of Mainers donate money, assets or property to charitable and religious organizations.
Nearly 90 percent of us eat our evening meals with other household members, and more than half of all Mainers regularly stay in touch with local and extended family through the Internet.
We are more than twice as likely to contact public officials than our average fellow Americans, and are — on average — more likely to boycott a product or business based on personal values.
We talk to each other about politics more than the average American, volunteer in our schools more than the average American and are nearly 50 percent more likely to serve on a public committee. We’re also more likely to be involved in service and civic associations and to belong to sports or recreation associations.
Interestingly, we are less likely than average Americans to be involved in our churches.
But, overall, we are a state of community-minded, politically engaged, financially generous, socially conscious people.
That’s life the way it should be.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.