The editorial and advertising staff of the Times-Tribune breathed a collective sigh of relief yesterday once Tuesday’s primary election came to a close.
Some of us here in the newsroom felt sort of “numb” from the lengthy day we faced — I would say those working polls and in the county clerk’s offices can attest to and sympathize with our weariness.
And while I was reviewing election returns from our Tri-County area, I felt like Whitley County Clerk Kay Schwartz did on Tuesday night — honestly disappointed.
For the Tri-County area, approximately 30 percent of registered voters bothered to show up for the election.
And I daresay, that’s just plain lazy.
I hear and overhear so many complaints about how government operates from federal to local officials — but yet only 30 percent of the people are participating in the decision-making process.
Why so few?
It isn’t like the stabilized litter of campaign signs splattered all over creation didn’t give folks a clue — signs bearing “elect” and “re-elect” and “help to elect” have dotted the landscape since January. And in some races, they’ll remain planted along our roadways for the November general election.
And I would guess that even then, turnout will be disappointingly low — probably even lower than it was this week.
Of course, I think back to the last two presidential races — both of which had an approximate 50 percent turnout.
That means roughly half the country’s registered voters showed up at the polls — how many unregistered and non-voting citizens do we have? The number would probably shock those of us who are concerned enough to at least spend 10 minutes casting a ballot.
So that means approximately 25-28 percent of the country’s voting population dared to cast ballots for current President Barack Obama.
That number is surprisingly small.
I can’t figure out the answer — voter apathy is a disease that has quietly spread to all corners of American society, from rich to poor, young and old, black and white. It’s a disease that’s putting a serious stranglehold on our beloved country and limiting us coming together as a unified collection of 50 states.
In these modern times it appears every interest group, religious group, minority group and others have been placed in positions of defense for one reason or another. Our country is so divided amongst itself it makes me wonder who plans to conquer us — “divide and conquer,” isn’t that what Philip II of Macedon said during his reign from 382-336 BC? The strategy worked then, it worked for Nazi Germany, and with our current societal expectations and political correctness issues, it makes me wonder just who it’s working for now.
If we, as individuals and as a society, began to place more importance on the issue of voting, perhaps we could begin to erode some of the corruption that everyone seems to want to complain about in our government workings. And in that process of voting, if we included just a smidgen of self-education and learned for whom we were casting ballots, we might get leaders in place who are true representatives of the majority of the population, rather than representatives from less than half of one small part of the population.
Maybe Kentucky needs to follow Tennessee’s example and consider instituting “early voting.” For a certain number of days preceding the primary or general elections, Tennessee voters have the opportunity to arrive a week or two early to cast their ballots for the election.
It certainly has the potential of drawing more voters to the polls, especially if those interested have some time to schedule voting among the daily errands of work, home and family.
It’s high time more of our citizenry take interest. It’s easy. Get registered. Get active. Get voting.
Or get conquered.
John Ross is a staff writer for the Times-Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.