Voter turnout underwhelming, as usual

Published 10:11 pm Tuesday, May 8, 2018

It’s a well-documented fact that voter turnout tends to slump during primaries and mid-term elections. With this being a primary election in a midterm election year, it’s not surprising that Beaufort County saw poor voter turnout during this election.

But it is a problem.

Of Beaufort County’s 32,988 registered voters, only 7,521 made it to the polls on Tuesday and during the early voting period. This number represents a mere 22.8 percent of the voting population.

Presidential election years tend to significantly energize voters. In Nov. 2016, 72.2 percent of Beaufort County’s eligible voters made it to the polls during the general election in November. That followed a primary election in March during which 39.81 percent of voters cast a ballot.

The last midterm year, 2014, 54.9 percent of Beaufort County residents went to the polls during the general election. Compare that to a 27.8 percent turnout during the 2014 primaries.

With municipal elections, turnout is even worse. Only 22.6 percent of eligible voters cast ballots during the 2017 general election. A whopping 2,229 voters — of 9,828 eligible — determined the leadership of Beaufort County’s seven municipalities for the next two to four years.

Here’s the problem — there is too much focus on national elections. Yes, these elections are important. But are they more important than our local races? Not for the people who live here.

These local elections, be they at the municipal or county level, impact our lives in far more tangible ways than the politics of Raleigh or Washington, D.C. Local elections can impact the ordinances you must abide by, the taxes you pay on your house and the services you receive as a municipal or county resident.

22.8 percent of the voting population just determined which names will appear on the ballot in November in the race for sheriff. Those same people decided who might become your state and national representatives. Are we okay with that arrangement?

If you did not vote during the primaries, there’s still another chance on Nov. 6. Don’t let someone else dictate the course of your government.