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Something's turning voters off

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POSTED: July 21, 2014 12:55 p.m.

In case you managed to miss it, the runoff election for a couple of important seats is Tuesday.
There’s the bid for the Senate seat being vacated by Saxby Chambless, where Longtime District 1 Congressman Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) is vying with David Perdue for the Republican nomination to face Democratic Michelle Nunn in November.
Then there’s the race for Kingston’s vacated role as the District 1 Congressman representing our area. Two Republicans — state Sen. Buddy Carter and Dr. Bob Johnson — and two Democrats, Richmond Hill businesswoman Amy Tavio and Savannah businessman Brian Reese, hope to be their party’s choice come Tuesday and ultimately win the post in November.
Whoever advances won’t exactly have a mandate from the people.
If turnout in early voting is any indication, there won’t be large numbers of people showing up at the polls on Tuesday, because early voting in the runoff has been light. That’s according to local officials, who note such years usually see less turnout because there’s no presidential race to get people excited about going to the polls.
Something’s definitely turning voters off.
After two full weeks of early voting, less than 450 people had voted in Bryan County by Monday afternoon – this in a community with roughly 20,000 registered voters.
Only about 50 people had sent in mail-in ballots.
That’s discouraging, especially given the cost to taxpayers of such elections and the importance each office holds.
We need the best possible people in government, and the way to ensure this is through broad participation in the process. As it stands now, small percentages of our population are selecting those who represent us. That may be why we see what we see in Washington and Atlanta — representative government that isn’t truly representative and too often gets embroiled in politics when it should be doing the people’s business.
To its credit, the state has done much to get more people to the polls through early voting, and, with the advent of social media, candidates can’t say they can’t get their message out there, unfiltered.
Despite all this, we see turnout that makes you scratch your head. It may be an unintended side effect of having such long campaigns — after all, this primary election has basically been going on since May. It makes it hard for all but the most dedicated of political junkies to keep tabs on the candidates, and it leads to things we’d all be better off without, such as negative campaigning.
The idea behind early voting was to make it easier for people to get to the polls. Restrictions were eased on absentee voting as well, but neither has helped in races such as the ones we’re in now.
One problem may be candidates who fail to inspire people to vote. Another may be people who are too busy or too apathetic to vote.
Whatever the case, there’s a problem. And we’re seeing the results of it every time there’s gridlock on our streets or in our halls of government.

 

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