Editor’s Column: Why don’t we vote?

Niki Turner

I’ve got a few elections under my belt now as editor and I’m seeing a disappointing trend.

As the newspaper, we’re less concerned with WHO you vote for (which is why we don’t endorse candidates), and more that you actually cast your VOTE.

Once again in this primary election—the first in which unaffiliated voters had an opportunity to participate—only a fraction of our county’s registered voters bothered to fill in a few dots on that ballot that came in the mail and return the thing (either in person, in one of the voting boxes or by mail). Out of 3,789 ballots mailed, only 1,683 had been returned by deadline.

That means a tiny contingent of the population is running the show. Our neighboring counties have had similar results.

I know I’m preaching to the choir here. Most of the people reading this are voters. Non-voters also tend to be non-readers. That says something, in and of itself.

Voting is a privilege and a responsibility we should cherish.

We’re posting another informal poll this week about voting (or non-voting) behavior. Check it out on our website.

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We’re under a fire ban again, in one of the driest years on record. Sales of fireworks in the county have been canceled, Rangely opted to cancel its fireworks show over Kenney Reservoir, and Meeker is undecided (as of press time) whether the fireworks show will go on.

Our county and town officials are doing the right thing by taking the risk of fire seriously. I hope all of the people out there who’ve smuggled in illegal fireworks from Wyoming will stop and think before they decide they just can’t have a happy Independence Day without fireworks.

Sure, we all like fireworks and it’s a great tradition, but it’s just too dry out there to risk it. Consider your neighbors, your friends, and the safety of our firefighters and opt for a spark-free Fourth of July.

2 Comments

  1. I tried to respond to your column and had a ready answer but I do not have one. I voted. Not many choices at the local level. The dominant political party worked things out in the caucus. Maybe there is a feeling that we cannot do very much about where the country and county are going…”it is what it is” is a standard phrase in Rio Blanco County, concerning the weather and the political environment. There are tons of topics we could debate like protecting hunting and fishing, recycling, responsible energy development and production, water resources, river health, clean air, loss of public land to land exchanges, natural beauty as an economic assest to our communities, the end of production agriculture…..plenty of topics to have a good discussion about and vote on.
    If the US agrees with the rest of the educated world that man has some influence on climate…then the fire ban might be a consideration of discussion about methane or carbondioxide and dust….At this point, money owning the media has one won the discussion and “it is what it is”

  2. Why don’t we vote? In part it’s because in federal elections it doesn’t matter:

    https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf

    This state of affairs is by design, as “readers” already know. James Madison’s “Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787” tells us in very clear terms what was discussed by the founders. They feared the democratic will of the people and deliberately wrote the Constitution to thwart it. Their expressions of disdain for the everyman (thought not the disdain itself) would be considered outrageous in 2018.

    At the local level where we have something more like democracy, folks who cast their ballots to the landfill rather than the ballot box do so because the ballot itself gives them no compelling reason to do otherwise. Disaffection is not apathy, and it is not a personal failing. In the final analysis, a ballot cast to Wray Gulch counts as voting with the majority and is often good enough for me. The stuff that needs to be done and can be done gets done either way.

    For example: I imagine that if candidates for boards of our local quasi-governmental organizations were to campaign with honest promises to end constructive dismissal (the practice of harassing employees to compel them to quit) the voter turnout would be remarkable. We of Meeker all know several decent, hard-working people who’ve been chewed up and spat out by the egotists who run the hospital and rec center, and we should all know that the cost of it manifests as diminished economic capacity in the local market — not to mention the effects upon the workers subjected to the harassment and their dependents. We could ever so slightly improve our local economy and earn the right to hold our heads just a little higher as easily as making constructive dismissal a topic in those elections so that we might then be able to say that we don’t tolerate that kind of mistreatment of our neighbors.

    No, I don’t really hold any hope that it will happen. It’s just an example.

    Lastly, because picking nits is so much fun: Voting WAS a privilege in 1787, but in 2018 it’s as much a right as any other we’ve got.

    PS: Good on ya for finding the more relevant document to put on the front page of the Independence Day edition this year. 🙂

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