Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Teeny, tiny turnout...

I know it was a special election at a strange time. I know it's the Christmas holidays. I know the length of the campaign was super truncated.

But only 3,608 people voted.

There are 21 precincts in District 72. If I'm reading the numbers correctly, there are 32,344 registered voters who could have voted today. The percentage who chose to vote is in the 11 - 12 percent range.

The lone Democrat in the race, Kevin Madden, garnered close to 16% of the vote.
Steve Brown's total was just under 25%.
Heidi Becker Vaisvil took slightly over 6% in her first foray into politics.
Matt Ramsey, all along the favorite to win, took the election without a run off with 53.35 percent of the vote.

I talked to people off and on over the past few weeks trying to get a feel for who was likely to vote. I was amazed at how many people simply didn't know there was an election.

There were signs all over the place, unusual at this time of year. Some had noted the signs but they didn't register, or they thought it must be for an election at some distant point.

I was surprised at how many people said they didn't read the local newspapers.

I know we had it on the Fayette Front Page, but it was down in the Political section so I'm not sure how many people pay attention to that section. Politics has a tendency to turn a lot of people off completely. Can't say that I blame them. There are times when I wish I didn't know as much as I do!

Every election I lament how few come out to vote. I think our focus is backwards. When there's a presidential election the turnout is overwhelming. When there is a state-wide election the turn out is fairly decent if not great (depends on which races are in play).

Get down to the local election and turnout decreases. Sometimes it falls into the pathetic range.

I've harped on this one before. The low turnout in this highly involved and educated county doesn't make a lot of sense.

Almost every bit of information we get about national and state elections is filtered through the media. Some of us take the time to go to political events where we might meet the candidates. But the vast majority of voters watch the candidates on TV, check them out on the Internet, or read about them in the paper. We see what they want us to see, what their opponents want us to see and what the media wants us to see.

Not so with local candidates. They sit next to you at church. Their children go to school with your children. You can drive five minutes to see them at a local event. You can find them in the local phone book. It's easy to find someone who knows the candidate. It's easy to find the candidate and ask them questions.

Local elected officials make decisions that affect us directly every day. Their decisions have a tremendous impact on our daily lives and our future.

It's important to vote in ALL elections.

In this particular election, all of District 72 is within Fayette County. It encompasses a large portion of the county. The person who represents us from this District can make a big difference in the future of our county.

I happen to think that Matt Ramsey will do a great job. I also think he'll be with us as a Representative until the point he decides to move on or step up to another elected position. He's responsive, knows the ropes and genuinely seems to be a good guy.

But I sure wish more people cared enough to take ten minutes from their day to vote.

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