“A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won’t cross the street to vote in a national election.” – Bill Vaughan, columnist
“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.” – George Jean Nathan, drama critic and editor
According to Barton County Clerk and Election Officer Donna Zimmerman, voter turn-out in primary elections is never as good as it is in general elections. This is indeed unfortunate, for it is these preliminary rounds of voting that set the stages for the big shows to follow in November.
She provided the following numbers from the last two primaries.
• 16,278 total registered voters
• 3,346 total ballots cast (including advanced)
• 694 ballots cast by advanced voters
• 20.6 percent total voter turn-out
• 16,692 total registered voters
• 4,764 total ballots cast (including advanced)
• 996 ballots cast by advanced voters
• 28.5 percent total voter turn-out
These numbers are staggering. Take the 2010 primary as an example – in that year, there were 16,692 voters in Barton County. A whopping 11,928 didn’t cast a ballot, allowing the 4,746 who did to make decisions for them.
Who was on that ballot is irrelevant. The apathy, however, is relevant.
One could argue that one vote won’t make a difference. One could say “sure, I have the right to vote, but I also have the right not to.”
Sure, but are those who claim this truly disenfranchised or just lazy. There are nations where laws mandate their citizens to vote. That seems extreme, especially since voting is something we should all feel a sense of duty and pride to do.
This Tuesday’s primary is unique in a way. Since Republicans make up the majority of the voting block in Barton County and there are few Democrats running, many of the races will be decided in the GOP primary. This gives even more weight to the election.
This is not a partisan thing. It is about the responsibility and obligation of all of us to cast our ballots and let our voices be heard.
If we don’t, the good citizens who don’t vote will continue to send bad officials to the halls of power.