The hope, of course, is that most if not all citizens of a democracy will vote. If you value the country and its system of governance, you do your duty.
Americans have always fallen short of that ideal behavior. But the 1996 election was particularly troubling. Seven percent less of the voting-age population (54 percent) went to the polls than four years earlier (61 percent). That was the largest such drop since the Census Bureau began tracking these numbers in 1964.
Of Americans who were registered but didn't vote, 1 in 5 said work demands kept them away. A census researcher reporting on this concluded: "Many people these days are finding their employers are putting so many demands on them, they can't take time off to vote."
The work excuse comes all too easily, whether to put off voting or other obligations. And with forecasters predicting abysmal turnout for this November's election, some may be tempted to do just the expected.
But the expectation that counts, in a democracy, is that citizens will vote.