Editorial: Each vote has impact
If you’re one of the eligible voters who’ll cast ballots in today’s municipal elections, congratulations on exercising your rights and responsibilities as a citizen.
If you’re not planning on going to the polls in the 10 Rowan County cities and towns where council and board seats are up for grabs, then you’d better hope your fellow voting citizens make wise decisions in your behalf. In today’s elections, a relative handful of voters will determine the outcome.
Off-year municipal elections typically draw low turnouts, and this year is likely to be no exception. In the 2011 municipal contests, turnout was 14.5 percent, with 5,495 voters out of 37,848 registered within municipal boundaries. That was an upswing from 2009, when only 10.97 percent of eligible voters participated in town and city races. (Contrast that with the better than 68 percent of voters who turned out in 2008, a presidential election year.) Low turnout amplifies the impact of each ballot, meaning each voter, in effect, wields the electoral power of several citizens. Consider that with only 162 votes cast in Faith’s town election in 2011, each of those votes counted for more than half a percent of the total.
Yet, while municipal elections typically don’t attract as much attention as nationwide, statewide or even countywide contests, they have a greater impact on our community than the higher profile jousts that incite heated debate and draw more people to the polls. Municipal elections are about potholes and property taxes, garbage collection and water rates. Such issues may not stir passions like Obamacare or voter ID laws, but they hit us where we live. And, given the turnout figures, these are contests where each vote not only counts but has significantly more effect on the results than in contests with higher vote totals.
The polls are open today from 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. If you’re not going to vote, maybe you can at least drop by and express some gratitude. Thank the candidates who are willing to shoulder the responsibilities of governing — and thank the other citizens who’re making these electoral decisions for you.