Exercise that right

Published 5:33 pm Thursday, May 10, 2012

In Beaufort County, 11,766 of the county’s 31,752 registered voters participated in Tuesday’s primaries by voting. That’s 37.06 percent of the county’s voters marking ballots at the polls or in early voting.

In the 2010 primaries, voter turnout in Beaufort County was at 19.89 percent, with 6,230 of the county’s 31,328 registered voters marking ballots.

That means nearly twice as many voters marked ballots in the 2012 primaries when compared to the 2010 primaries. That’s an impressive jump when it comes to primaries.

Beaufort County voters should be applauded for the turnout they produced Tuesday. There’s no doubt the proposal to amend the state’s constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and woman played a role in that increase in voter turnout. It was, as political pundits are fond of saying these days, a “hot-button issue.”

While it would be better for voters to go to the polls to support candidates of their choice, if having an issue such as the so-called “marriage amendment” on the ballot helps bring out more voters, that should be acceptable.

Voters must remember that candidates are as important, if not more so, than issues on ballots because often it is those candidates who help shape and put such issues on ballots. Sometimes, how candidates feel about certain issues result in those candidates putting their names on ballots so they can influence those issues. If the end result is more voters marking ballots and participating in the electoral process, then cities, counties, states and the nation, ultimately, will benefit from increased voter turnout.

Whenever there’s an opportunity to vote, be it a primary, second primary or general election, exercise that right.