OK, so you were aware that there’s an election coming up right?
If you read this newspaper, you might be aware that folks are running for offices to lead the local town government.
Far too many people, most likely including some of you reading this column, will be among those who don’t bother to vote in the Nov. 5 election. That’s a shame. In fact, it’s more than a shame. If you’re registered and you don’t vote, well, you really screwed up.
We all heard about the federal government shutdown. Many of us have an opinion as to whether that should have happened, or whether it ended too soon.
Some of you reading this may even have been affected in some way, as we were a few weeks ago along the Blue Ridge Parkway when we tried to stop for a bathroom break, only to find the rest areas closed.
But nowhere will government touch you as closely as it does at the local level.
If you are a regular voter or you’re fascinated by the process for whatever reason, try taking this quiz and see how you do. .
• How many votes did it take to get elected to the Wendell board of commissioners in the last election? The lowest vote total for any of the two winning candidates was 351 by Sam Laughery.
• How many people voted in Garner’s last municipal election? 2,603.
• What percentage of voters cast ballots in Garner’s last municipal election? Just 14.3 percent of registered voters took the time to cast a ballot in the last Garner election.
• How many Constitutional Amendments, post-Civil War, specifically address the voting rights of certain groups of citizens? Six: The 14th Amendment declares eligible voters to be those born or naturalized in the U.S. eligible to vote. The 15th amendment addresses race. The 19th amendment addresses gender. The 23rd amendment gives Washington D.C. voters the chance to vote for in a presidential election. The 24th amendment eliminates the poll tax and the 26th amendment lowered the voting age to 18.
• How many polling places were opened in Zebulon for voters to fill out their ballot in the 2011 election? Two
• How much does it cost to register and vote in a municipal election? $0
• Where in eastern Wake County can you go to register to vote? Any library, town hall or the Eastern Regional Center.
• How many people are running for the town council in Knightdale this year? There are four candidates for three open seats.
• Can you name any of them? Charles Bullock, Mike Chalk, Mark Swan and Randy Young.
• If you are registered to vote, what will likely keep you from weighing in on the race in your town?
OK, so you’ll have to answer that last one for yourself. With all the opportunities to vote that currently exist, from absentee and early voting to one-stop voting and the more traditional Election Day exercise, there’s really no good reason not to take part.
The bottom line for us in Wake County – and this probably isn’t different from any other town in the U.S. that doesn’t have a major scandal taking place – is that far too few people will be making decisions for all the rest of us on Election Day.
There are far too many encumbrances foisted upon most of us these days in many aspects of our daily lives. Choosing our leaders is not that regulated for most of us. It’s not time consuming. It’s not that difficult (current voting regulations excepted). It is, however, important.
My parting thought is this: Stay away from the polls this year. It’ll give people who do vote a far greater say in your daily lives. You won’t be able to do anything about who makes those decisions for you, so if you don’t play a role in the beginning of the process, on Election Day, the power will remain in the hands of the few. And those who do go vote will appreciate the fact that your vote didn’t do anything to dilute the power of their ballot.