Tri-City Ledger -

By Joe Thomas
Ledger Editor 

Better than I thought but still pitiful


July 16, 2020

I have to admit that Alabama's 17.36 percent voter turnout and Escambia County's 18.03 percent turnout in Tuesday's runoff elections were higher than I anticipated, but it's still pitiful.

To put those percentages in perspective, 82.64 percent of the registered voters in Alabama did not vote and 81.97 percent of the registered voters in Escambia County failed to cast a ballot.

I hope that doesn't mean that the overwhelming majority of people in this state don't care about who represents us in Washington, D.C., and don't care how those elected officials spend our money and don't care if those officials double our taxes.

I hope those numbers are somehow associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, but I really doubt it. With no pandemic the percentage points would have likely jumped a few points but not many. Every registered voter in this state had an opportunity to at least cast an absentee ballot. There's a box right there on the form that will allow you to vote absentee due to health reasons. Being concerned over contracting COVID-19 at the polls qualifies.

Granted, Tuesday we didn't elect anybody to any office. We picked a Republican nominee to challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Doug Jones in the November General Election. We also picked the Republican and Democratic nominees for the U.S. House of Representatives' First Congressional District that now has Republican Carl Jones facing off with Democrat James Averhart.

Primaries are nothing more than a weeding-out process where the Republicans and Democrats select their candidates for the real election in November. Winning Tuesday didn't win those candidates anything other than their name on the General Election ballot.

Who we send to Washington will be decided in November.

I expected us to get out of single digits Tuesday in terms of voter turnout, but I really thought that figure would be about 12 percent. So, for those of you who did vote, I say thank you. I don't know what to say for the majority of you who didn't vote because what I may say wouldn't be fitting to print in this newspaper.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people complain about what our elected officials do, but don't care enough to have a say in who those elected officials are.

I know Tuesday's runoff ballot was thin, but we had some very important races on the ballot. Back in March we had a 33.01 percent voter turnout across the state and a 28.16 percent turnout in Escambia County. That still tells me that the overwhelming majority of the people either don't care or are completely satisfied with the status quo.

If I had a dime for every time somebody told me their one vote didn't count I could be retired by now. But your one vote does count. I've covered elections in this county that were decided by two to three votes so don't tell me all votes don't count. Ask Al Gore about those hanging chad votes in Florida that didn't get counted. If had they been, he'd likely been elected president of the United States.

Within a few days the political spin doctors will throw some demographics at us telling us which age groups, race groups and sex groups voted Tuesday. They'll also likely tell us which groups didn't vote and try and tell us why. That's the question I want answered: why don't you vote?

My bet is the majority of people living in communist countries would love an opportunity to vote. But if they dare raise that question in public they'll likely be killed.

So, you don't care about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, taxes, health insurance or the fact that we are free to walk into a grocery store and buy a loaf of bread. What do you care about?

On Aug. 25 the municipalities across Escambia County (Ala.) will elect council members and mayors to run those respective local governments.

This is where the rubber meets the road. The people we elect in August will be making such decisions as how much we pay for water, sewer and natural gas. They will be deciding on whether or not we pay a few more cents in sales tax every time we go to the store and they will decide on whether we patch pot holes and clean out ditches. They could raise the taxes on gasoline and make us pay more at the pump. They can tell us whether we can shoot off a firecracker or not.

In August, the agenda for your town will be set for the next four years and you need a voice in that agenda. You only get a voice if you vote.


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