It’s Wednesday morning, the day after the June Primary Election as I’m writing this and I’m feeling more than a little bit disappointed by the low voter turnout locally in the Tuesday, June 5 primary.
According to the Lassen County Clerk’s website, there are 14,154 registered voters in the county, and so far only 3,218 ballots have been counted — yes, a whopping 22.74 percent.
On Wednesday morning, Lassen County Clerk Julie Bustamante estimated there are another 3,000 or so ballots still to be counted, plus those that come in the mail postmarked by June 5 by the end of the week as well as some unsigned ballots the clerk’s office is trying to get signed so they can be counted. But even after all these ballots get sorted out and the results become official in the next week or so, the number of registered voters who did not cast a ballot still will be larger than those who did.
So I ask you to ponder this discombobulating incongruity for a moment, I ask you to do a little soul searching with me, if you will — fewer than half of those eligible to vote participated in last week’s election in a county that loudly and persistently prides itself on its staunch conservative heritage and beliefs and its deeply loyal and heartfelt patriotic roots. Let me say it again — fewer than half cared enough to participate.
Let’s not forget, there were some real issues of community interest and concern on the ballot last Tuesday.
For months and years now, members of our community have raised public safety issues in both the city and the county. We know a large percentage of the local governments’ budgets already go to public safety, but local officials said more funding was needed and they asked the community to provide it through a sales tax increase. That measure failed to pass — fair enough — but as they say, elections have consequences and in response our local government bodies will probably face cuts and fewer services. Some pundits even suggest closing the community swimming pool — it took more than a decade to get built — or the golf course as the first cuts to make. One friend of mine simply said that sales tax vote just meant county residents were willing to cut off their nose to spite their face.
Another public safety related measure is the Lassen County District Attorney’s race. Incumbent Stacey Montgomery decided not to seek a second term, and three candidates emerged to succeed her — one from inside the office, another a former prosecutor from the office and a third who promised to bring many changes to the office — an end to unreasonable plea bargains and equal justice for all.
And I haven’t even mentioned all the other local, state and federal races and state issues up for a vote.
Now I could easily slip into some massive gripe fest about these turnout numbers, but such a perspective wouldn’t serve anyone, and that’s really not my purpose. Instead, I hope to encourage those who didn’t vote to care enough participate the next time around. Every vote counts.
So I want to boldly ask each and every registered voter in Lassen County to cast a ballot in November because apathy truly serves no good master. Don’t just be along for the ride. Do your part. Vote.
Then again, another friend of mine looked at the low voter turnout and said we always elect the government we deserve.
And finally, let me say thank you so much to all those local residents who voted.