Editor’s Column: Participate, or else

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Let’s talk about voting.

Niki Turner

I realize this election was an “off-season” election without a lot of big ballot issues—no major county seats up, no state or national offices, no dramatic resolutions to weigh in on—but it was still an election. We voted on school board members and mill levies in this county, and those aren’t items we should be willing to brush off as unimportant. They affect our children’s future (as do the outcomes of all elections).
So the fact we saw 36 percent voter participation in Meeker and 46 percent in Rangely is cause for concern, in my opinion. That means less than half the registered voters—and there are many who are eligible who aren’t registered—bothered to take five minutes to fill in in a few dots and drop their ballot in the mail or in a drop box.
Our county clerk and recorder, Boots Campbell, has the following quote from Thomas Jefferson in her email signature: “We are ruled not by the majority, but by the majority who participate.”
That quote still holds true 200 years later. If you don’t like the way things are going, it may well be because you aren’t participating.
I understand the frustration of feeling thwarted by the electoral college in our national elections, but these local elections aren’t subject to the electoral college. When you vote for a local or county or even state issue or candidate, every vote does count.
In the tiny town of Dinosaur, for example, this year’s vote on an additional sales tax measure related to marijuana sales had 53 votes for, and 26 votes against. Only 79 people voted on the measure out of 254 ballots mailed to registered voters. That means thirty-one percent of the voters in Dinosaur are running the show. And perhaps they deserve to, because they’re the ones who are willing to participate.
Government doesn’t start (or end) in Washington, D.C. It starts with our local special district boards, and with local ballot measures. If we want to complain about national or state affairs, perhaps we better start looking at how seriously we’ve taken our responsibility as local voters. Don’t like how you’re being “ruled,” Are you in the majority who participate? If not, your argument is invalid.

By way of reminder, we have an early deadline next week due to Thanksgiving. If you want something in the paper, we need it no later than Monday morning to get to the printer on time.