It’s pretty much a given that non-presidential elections will generate little interest, unless it’s in a small venue with a hot local issue or a contentious city council race to spice things up.
For the most part, though, only a few folks showed up for the election last week, and in Madison County, well, it was awful.
Granted, there only were the seven constitutional amendments on the ballot, which on the surface it seems really not exciting. But several of those issues dealt with property taxes and granting exceptions to certain people, and tax dollars fund services that everyone enjoys.
For the record, the turnout here was 3.88 percent, or 279 of 7,182 registered voters. That is how many people made decisions about issues people in the state deemed crucial enough to put before the voters.
More people turned out for free meals at a recent grand opening.
To put things more into perspective, the fate of an additional $55 million in school bonds, which will raise taxes in the Navasota school district, was decided by 1,294 people. There are 15,336 registered voters in that county, but less than 9 percent of them decided on a course of action that will change taxes for most of the county.
Statewide, matters were little better. For the seven amendments, less than 6 percent of more than 15 million voters stepped out and pulled the lever.
That’s sad by any measure.
Given the current political climate, with people polarized over candidates and issues across the spectrum, the empathy surrounding elections is alarming. No wonder there’s gridlock, and no movement in Washington.
But for anyone who complains that “Trump is a fascist” or “we don’t need a border wall” or “Obamacare is evil and must be destroyed,” those arguments are nothing more that hot air if you don’t participate in the process.
Yes, the issues may have seemed trivial in this year’s election, but that’s not an excuse to shirk the privilege of voting. Because that’s the only way to get your voice heard.
Calling and complaining to an elected official may be cathartic, but it’s really an ineffective way to get things handled, especially if there’s an elected official that is deemed to be unconcerned with their constituents. The solution: vote the bum out.
Want the federal government to stay out of health care? Vote in people who will do that. Want the federal government to take over health care? Same answer. Staying away from the polls is giving assent by apathy, and the end result will be awful for everyone and by then, too late to fix.
Now more than ever is the time to get involved, even on things as simple as amending a constitution. There are no small elections, and really, no small issues.
Let’s all get back into the game.
Tony Farkas is publisher of the Madisonville Meteor.