The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Editorials

May 13, 2014

Get out

Everyone should vote today even if it is an ‘off year’

Voter turnout in an election like today’s primary election is often fickle, and just as often leads to exasperation, if not downright despair.

Typically, an election like today’s is regarded as an “off-year” vote, because there are no national presidential candidates on the ballot.

The average turnout of registered West Virginia voters in elections like today’s is about 25 percent.

That’s far too low for an event that is far too important to be decided by such a small number of voters.

This primary election may not decide the direction of the nation, but it most certainly will decide the direction of our local communities.

In fact, we’ll make the case that those we elect to the county commission, and who wins a seat on our local school board, are of even greater importance than who sits in the White House.

Because the men and women who hold these local offices have a much more direct influence on our communities, our lives and our future.

In 2010, when we had our last midterm primary election, voter turnout in the state was 24 percent. In the previous such election year, in 2006, it was 26 percent, reports MetroNews.

In the fall elections of those years, voter turnout was 42 percent in 2010 and 44 percent in 2006. Better numbers, granted, but not good enough.

Our take on it is, if just one out of four voters gets to pick who is on the ballot in the fall for the general election, a big part of the issue has already been decided: The best candidate, the one you would vote for hands-down, may not even be on that ballot.

The numbers would be much worse if we included the adults 18 years of age and older who haven’t even bothered to register to vote at all.

For those who do get out and vote, hallelujah! We bless you and thank you for taking your role as an American and a West Virginian seriously.

For those of you who don’t?

Let’s not hear any complaints for the next couple years.

You won’t have earned the right.

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