I’m still a novice at covering news, but I’ve covered a few elections in the five or so years I’ve spent as a news reporter.
When I cover local, state or congressional elections, the first thing I look at is voter turnout. It’s the first indicator of who might win an election.
It’s also a good indicator of the barometer of an area. You can tell love, hate or indifference by voter turnout.
I learned these things from my mother, who was head of voter registration for a decade back in my home county in South Carolina.
I turned 18 on July 4, 1993. On July 5, 1993, I was forced to drag myself out of bed after a day of celebrating to drive to Mom’s office to register to vote.
That’s how important voting is to my family!
While staying up late posting the results of the April elections here in Lincoln County – like I always do – I noticed turnout was lower than it was back in November.
Of course, we had a rather hotly-contested presidential election that didn’t end until sometime in December – and some people believe still isn’t over.
However, does that mean local elections don’t matter?
Former United States Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill famously said “all politics is local.” Yet, we only seem to vote when national and statewide seats are on the line in November.
Do Lincoln County R-III School Board spots not matter in April? Does the mayoral election in Troy not matter in April?
Nobody filed to represent Elsberry Ward 1 as an Alderman, much less voted for it, except for one or two people who decided to write in his or her names. Congratulations to that person, by the way!
Also in Elsberry, the future of the students of Lincoln County R-II Schools was on the ballot with Proposition 2. No matter what people think about it (that’s not my place to decide), 419 people voting with that much at stake is a bit dismal and inexcusable – but that’s just one man’s opinion.
Only 43 people voted for citywide spots in Silex, a place that has gone through more than its share of turmoil. A new mayor was elected unopposed, and one alderman was reelected, but somehow, a second alderman spot will have to be decided most likely in a special election.
As one of my favorite rap groups of all-time once said “the (expletive-deleted) saga continues!”
I’m not saying we should have the same type of turnout in April we should have in November. What I am saying is we should care as much about, if not more, about who we elect to represent us at home as we do in Jefferson City – or Washington.