It’s (Almost) Election Day
But what about all those other guys?
At the Tiger Bay Club meeting Friday, Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland said that the early voter turnout and rate of return on absentee ballots was abysmally low. “Abysmally” is my word, not his, but things were pointing to a single or low-double digit overall turnout in the primary election. And that’s just not good enough.
There is a lot at stake in this election. Both parties will determine who will be on the ballot in November in the race for U.S. Senate and Governor. The race for State Senator in the 8th district is, by at least some estimations, much closer than most political watchers anticipated, and locally, there is a judicial office and three contested school board seats. Even in the dog days of August, that should be enough to get everyone to go to the polls.
But apparently not so much.
I’ll grant you that not everyone has all of those races on their ballots. If you’re not in the 8th Senate district or one of the contested school board districts, maybe you looked at the sample ballot and yawned. Maybe the charges and counter-charges in a couple of these races have been enough to make voters say “to heck with the lot of them” and stay home. But you don’t vote at your own risk.
This is a very unusual year in that many of these offices have no incumbent… the state senate seat being a notable exception. But in each of the races, there is at least a familiar, some might say career, politician vying for the office, and they are in many cases being challenged by at least one political newcomer, often with very deep pockets. Bill McCollum has a long political track record, while Rick Scott has only his business record on which to run. Alex Sink, the state’s current CFO, has only nominal opposition on the Democratic side of that race.
The list of candidates for U.S. Senate is long, with Kendrick Meek the most recognizable name on the Democratic side, and Marco Rubio looking like a lock for the Republican nomination, though neither primary is uncontested.
There are three Republicans hoping for the right to challenge Corrine Brown, and she has a primary challenger as well.
The 25th circuit judges race is an open seat.
And so it goes.
The bottom line is this. In our system of representative democracy, the only way to have a voice outside of running for office yourself is to go to the polls and vote. The tenor of campaigns may be disappointing, or even off-putting, but when only a tiny fraction of the voters statewide make these decisions, when the general elections roll around those primary non-voters have allowed someone else to make a decision for them. They’ve ceded their right to choose who will represent them at all levels of government.
With that in mind, I hope, if you didn’t take advantage of early voting, that you’ll make it a point to get to the polls and vote on Tuesday. The system works best when more people participate.
If you really believe in democracy, and you think our system of electing leaders is something to be emulated around the world, set a personal example and go vote.