A number of news outlets were touting the increases in voter turnout in some North Carolina counties for last week’s municipal elections, but there should be no joy in the fact that, at best, only about one in four registered voters bothered to cast a ballot in those areas.
In Bladen County, barely more than two out 0f 10 registered voters actually voted.
Election day dawned and remained a beautiful day. It was sunny, warm. The ballot had plenty of choices for voters to make within their own community — aside from a few of the smaller towns that had uncontested races. So there was no good reason for a registered voter to blow off casting a ballot.
We hope you have noticed that we have been referring to “registered voters” here. While its pitiful that only 22 percent of Bladen County’s registered voters went to the polls for the 2017 municipal election, a far greater pathetic number is the one representing voting-age residents who don’t even bother to register.
That means the actual percentage of those making the decisions for the rest of the county dwindles even further.
While many of the decisions made were well within the realm of “expected” outcomes, there surely could have been a different outcome or two if all registered voters cast a ballot. And just imagine what might take place if all voting-age residents were registered AND voted.
That’s merely a pipe dream, of course. We are still wondering if we will ever again see an election — presidential, municipal or primary — where far more than 50 percent casts a vote. It seems doubtful given the current political atmosphere.
But it is still discouraging when local elections, like last week’s, draw smaller and smaller numbers.
It is the decisions of our local officials that have a far greater impact on your daily lives than anyone in Raleigh or Washington. You local officials are making decisions that affect your children in school and your dollars in your community. You should care about having a say on how all that is decided.
But the trend of shrinking voter turnouts is parallel with that of resident turnout at any school board, town board or county board meeting you care to choose. That’s sad.
What all that means is this — nobody who didn’t visit a polling site last week or cast an absentee ballot should feel disappointed with the results or feel disenfranchised. The fact that your voice wasn’t made part of the final decision is no one’s fault but your own. And quite honestly, you let down your family, your neighborhood, your community and your county.
It really is that simple.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Every election is determined by the people who show up.” (Anonymous)