The Discouraging Number From Yesterday’s Election
I have to tell you, I don't like writing an article like this. At the outset it may make me come off as a pompous ass and that I have a holier than thou attitude. I hope I am neither pompous or an ass, and I'm certainly holier than no one. But I have to tell you, there was one number released in the preliminary results of the city council race in Cedar City from yesterday that left me a bit discouraged.
The number? 22.67%. That's the number of voters who were eligible to vote in the race that cast a ballot. Now, before I go too far down the “in a funk” road, I will point out that these are initial numbers, more vote are likely to be counted which will, of course, raise that percentage. But still, not even 25% casting a vote?
By comparison in Parowan, they had a 41.09% turnout. Way to go Parowan!
As I have written previously, I believe these municipal elections are way more important than the national and statewide races we will be enduring in 2024. Don't worry, I can see your eyes rolling now. But, I still believe it is our local leaders who will have the most impact in our day to day lives. And even more important, it is in these local elections where our participation has the most impact.
A neighborhood voting as a type of block can really make a difference in a local election. As a case in point, while not a strictly local race, the turn out in the rural counties in the current race for the 2nd Congressional District here in Utah shows the dynamic. While Wasatch Front voters voted mostly for one candidate, voters in the rest of the district are voting for another candidate and at this point the rural areas seem to be leading the way.
If the Wasatch Front got to sit this one out as far as being a representative in congress I would not be displeased. But I digress.
This is our town (or city or community or whatever we want to label it). I believe we should all want to have a say in the direction to go.
Low voter turnout undermines the legitimacy of elected officials and the government they form. In a democracy or a republic, leaders are meant to represent the will of the people. When a small fraction of the population decides their fate, it can lead to doubts about the true mandate of those in power. This can erode trust in the political system and breed cynicism among citizens.
And consider this. Low voter turnout hampers the ability to address pressing issues effectively. Elected officials may be less inclined to tackle complex and long-term problems if they believe they won't face significant backlash at the polls. This can result in a lack of action on critical issues like climate change, healthcare, and education. And that's on us.
I will watch and be happy as the numbers go up as votes continue to be counted. And who knows, when it's all said and done, Cedar City could reach, maybe even surpass, the 41% that came in from Parowan. That would be great.
But I hope we can agree on one thing. 22.67% just doesn't cut it.