OUR VIEW: Why do people choose not to vote?

Published 11:30 am Saturday, December 4, 2021

We’ve written about low voter turnout in elections before in this space, but we’ve never seen numbers at the polls as putrid as this week’s District 5 commission run-off.

Out of 9600 registered voters who were eligible to participate in the election, only 4.5% actually cast a vote. Every vote mattered too. Jimmy McCamey defeated Norma Tucker by only 63 votes, a margin fairly small in a local election.

And yes, you could say the Thanksgiving holiday smack dab in the middle of this run-off cycle didn’t help voter turnout — and we don’t disagree — but early voting ensured that voters had plenty of time to get to the polls. There was also 12 hours to vote on Election Day. Twelve very long hours.

And we use the description “long” because poll workers had to literally sit there, all day on Tuesday, to watch very few voters actually come in to cast a ballot. At the Gardner Newman polling precinct, there were 0 votes. Read that again. Yes, zero. Many others had single digit votes.

Regardless of the position up for grabs, it’s really sad when only a handful of voters take part in an election. We’ll never know if the results would’ve been different Tuesday night if a larger part of the electorate actually participated, but we think both candidates would’ve preferred more votes. It’s hard to say the voters of District 5 spoke loudly, if only a few actually made the decision for the group at large. However, with that said, it’s even more sad when you consider that this election was to replace Richard English, who died a few months ago after 43 years representing the people of District 5. English’s legacy is well-known to anyone who has lived in Troup County, and we thought the best way to honor him would’ve been to have a huge showing at the polls.

There were five candidates in the general election, all hoping to sit in the seat English held for so long, and to honor and continue his legacy. More people showed up to vote in the general election than the run-off.

We’re going to venture a guess that some of the 9100 or 9200 people who didn’t vote Tuesday night have some kind of issue or issues they’d like to see pushed forward in District 5. We’re sure some will even go on a social media platform and complain, which almost assuredly gets nothing done. But when the opportunity arose to actually vote for a representative to create real change — to be a vote for them — they should to sit on the sidelines. We realize that Donald Trump and Joe Biden weren’t on this ballot, and there wasn’t a national debate to fan the flames and get people talking.

During the presidential race, people often wrote that they wanted a clean race, where both candidates acted like adults. Well, that’s what we got between McCamey and Tucker, and we’re thankful for that. Both candidates should be proud of that. Yet, at the polls, there wasn’t enough interest for most to take two minutes and vote in an election that had literally zero waiting time. What a shame.

We congratulate McCamey on his victory and for the work he did on the campaign trail to earn votes. We also congratulate Tucker on a race well-run.  We just wish there would’ve been more votes cast and more input from citizens. After all, voting is a right in our country. Unfortunately in many cases, most just seem to take it for granted.