An election is being held in your community Saturday. That fact may be greeted with a rousing “so what” by some, and it may even come as a surprise to a few others, despite considerable publicity and campaigning. Those are the people — including many registered voters — who are only part-time citizens. They choose to sit on the sidelines when the election doesn’t feature a controversial issue or a bitterly contested race — or a presidential sweepstakes.
Except for the election on an amendment to the Texas Constitution, Saturday’s ballots are all local elections.
As important as local elections are to the communities in which we live, they are often fortunate to attract 20 to 25 percent of a jurisdiction’s registered voters. In some years, it’s a struggle to get half that number to participate. The results of those elections can hardly be described as the will of the people. Nevertheless, the voters who do decide to exercise their right and privilege to vote make choices that decide who will lead our city governments and make policy for school systems throughout the state.
A single vote is always important, but it stands as a larger percentage of the turnout when the participation is low. It could be argued that each vote is even more significant in these local elections, because the voter base is much smaller when compared to a statewide or national election.
Admittedly, Saturday’s elections will not affect most of the major issues the world faces. For example, the cause of world peace will not be advanced, and national health care issues will not be resolved. But these elections are nevertheless crucial to the effective oversight of our local cities, local schools and other entities. The decisions these local leaders must make are seldom simple, and their rewards are often public criticism. The offices they seek provide little if any financial compensation. But an immense investment of time and effort will be required of the winners. Voters who do go to the polls need to arrive after thoughtful and informed consideration of the candidates offering themselves for service.
The polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Even those who missed the early voting period should be able to fit voting into their Saturday schedule. Don’t shrug it off because it’s only a local election. Vote.