New Castle News

November 4, 2013

Our Opinion: All voters have good reasons to turn out at the polls

By Staff
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Tomorrow is what is termed an off-year election.

It refers to the fact no national races are on the ballot. But as far as we are concerned, it’s a term that is misleading.

All elections are important. And the case can be made that local elections have a greater impact on the lives of individuals than those involving candidates seeking office in Washington.

However, turnout suggests a different perception. The number of voters in so-called off-year elections is almost always lower than in other years. In fact, primary turnouts can be downright horrible.

That was certainly the case this year in Lawrence County, when a mere 17.1 percent of registered voters bothered to turnout.

Tomorrow’s turnout may be higher; traditionally, more people vote in general elections than in primaries. Yet again, that fact is counterproductive from a voting standpoint. In primaries, voters generally have more choices in local elections at the primary stage.

That’s certainly the case tomorrow, as voters in most Lawrence County school districts will discover the choices already have been made. In just two districts, New Castle and Wilmington, are there more names on the ballots than seats to fill.

And in other races, selections are limited or non-existent. Frankly, a voter seeking a vibrant ballot is bound to be disappointed.

So, we suppose, that’s an excuse not to go to the polls tomorrow. But we view that as a cop out. Regardless of the number of candidates on a ballot, it is always in the interest of voters to turn out.

That’s the best way they have to remind politicians that they need to keep in touch with the people. A low turnout and lack of public interest runs the risk of conveying the message to politicians that everything’s fine and no one is watching.

That’s when the potential for mischief is at its greatest.

We absolutely encourage the public to participate in tomorrow’s election. There should be a heavy turnout this time and every time. It’s in the interest of all citizens for that to happen.