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Few voters, few candidates, little interest, why bother to have elections?

    The people of this county ought to be embarrassed and ashamed by the primary election last week.
    Few people bothered to vote and important seats went uncontested.
    If this is the best we can do, maybe we should get rid of the right to vote and let the federal government appoint overseers for us.
    This election saw our top local official seeking another four years. Our commission chair, the most powerful local government officer, was running against a longtime rival and yet few people cared enough to vote. It was a heated race for an office that directs where spending goes to roads, parks, economic development activities and ultimately our property tax bills. Similarly the school board chair was in a three person race. Parents and teachers who complain incessantly about every thing a school does, didn’t even turn out in any great number.
    If people don’t turn out to either support or dissent with these figures, it’s hard to imagine what would bring them out.
    Look at some of these disgraceful facts:
    • Only 4,299 voters bothered to cast a ballot. There are 19,778 registered voters here with 15,873 considered active.
    • The turnout counting all voters was 22 percent; it is officially called 27 percent (as the state only counts active voters).
    • This means that only one out of every five voters enjoyed their rights or exercised their duties of being a free citizen in a republic.
    • Just as bad: the following seats were left unopposed: one commission post, one school board seat, the sheriff, magistrate judge, probate judge and clerk of court.
    For the unopposed incumbents, it’s a shame they don’t get to/have to face voters. In the first place, it’s good for all officials to be reminded that they work for the people. Tyrants develop when you put someone in office who never has to justify to voters what they have done the last four years.
    Having public figures come every term and ask for their jobs again is the fundamental underpinning of a democracy. Even without opposition, it appeared that no one had any questions/complaints or suggestions for any of the officeholders. While politicians are generally the subject of ire here all those who didn’t cast a ballot need to take a look in the mirror. This is a public asleep at the wheel.
    The fact that voters/citizens of this county didn’t take any interest in the people governing us right here in buildings we drive past everyday – seems similar to ancient Rome, in the final, not glory days. Maybe instead of holding an election next go-round, we can hire some gladiators to fight in a pit.
    Most galling about this dismal display of democracy is the number of people who follow closely the presidential race. Not that the highest office in the whole country isn’t the most important.
    But those who are so focused on Trump v. Clinton, ask yourself this:
    Who is the one responsible for the roads you drive on everyday? The person who assigns officers to police your neighborhood? Who sets some parameters on the schools? Which government officials can you call at home or stop in the grocery store? It’s not the ones in Washington.
    Luckily, it does appear that our current crop of office-holders are competent, so no harm was done by this pathetic exercise in democracy. But we must do better, our community and forefathers who fought so hard to get us these rights deserve more.