Editorial: The power of the ballot
Polling places across Rowan County are open today as voters cast ballots on municipal elections and a proposed quarter-cent sales tax increase. That means all registered voters across the county have a reason to go to the polls today, not just those who live in city limits.
The sales tax increase would affect everyone, not just in who will pay, but also in who might benefit. County commissioners want the increase to fund an updated emergency communications system, including three radio towers, and a jail annex to relieve overcrowding in the downtown Detention Center. These public safety issues affect everyone.
As for the municipal elections, one of the paradoxes of American democracy is that participation runs lowest in town elections, where contact with the candidates is actually highest. You can see the president and the governor on television, but you can run into your mayor or town board member at the supermarket, hardware store or church. Voters get swept up in the national to-and-fro of presidential races; that’s when turnout is the highest. But when it comes to the municipal officials who are most accessible to the voters, many people just don’t bother. It’s as if local affairs are not important enough to warrant a trip to the polls.
Which makes your vote all the more important. Margins of victory can be slimmer than slim ó even non-existent. Remember the back-and-forth tie between Buddy Gettys and Jody Everhart for mayor of Spencer in 2001? Election officials drew a name from a hat, recounted the ballots by machine, hand counted them, drew a name from the hat again and then finally called for another election.
Not an election goes by that someone doesn’t call for a recount for at least one race ó from Granite Quarry alderman and Rockwell mayor to Minnesota senator.
You have the power to help determine the outcome. Your vote counts. Use it.