Wasting Your Vote

10 Apr

Apparently, I was supposed to vote today.  The City of Lincoln held a primary election.

Frankly, I had no idea that my primary democratic responsibility was being called into action today.  I don’t read the local paper very often, and when the wife and I watch TV at night, she’ll always pick a Law & Order rerun over the 10 o’clock news*.

*My wife finds many of the news stories (murders, violent crimes, etc) depressing, so I can appreciate that you might think choosing Law & Order or Law & Order: SVU local news is curious – given the amount on violence on many of those shows.  Yet, I think that on some level she prefers L & O because we always know that in the end, Detectives Benson & Stabler (or District Attorney Jack McCoy) will always get the bad guy.

Anyway, I’m not going to lose any sleep about sitting this election out.

Why?  Because it was a complete and utter waste of time and resources.

Had I bothered to vote, I could have voted in the following city races:

  • Lincoln Airport Authority.  Nicholas J. Cusick ran unopposed.
  • Lincoln School Board.  I don’t live in one of the four districts where the seat was up for election, so I wouldn’t have been able to vote.  Regardless, all four candidates ran unopposed.
  • Lincoln City Council.  There are three at-large seats up for election.  In this primary, voters picked up to three from the seven initial candidates, with the top six advancing to the general election on May 7.

That’s it.

Seriously.

Three races, a total of nine candidates, and only one went home a loser*.

I’m not sure if the candidates cared about this election.

*My sincere condolences to Norman L. Dority, whose 4% of the City Council vote wasn’t nearly enough to extend his campaign.  If it helps, your vote total would have won three of the four school board races. 

What a waste.  The Lincoln Journal-Star estimated this election will cost around $135,000.  I haven’t seen any voter turnout numbers yet, but the election commissioner was expecting around 20,000 citizens to vote.  Judging by the airport authority vote, at least 15,742 people bothered to show up.

I’d love to know who the people are that intentionally showed up for this vote.  I can understand the candidates, as well as their family and friends.  I can understand the folks who work at the polling places taking 45 seconds to vote.  I suspect a number of retired people with nothing better to do might feel obligated to vote (especially in some of the retirement communities that doubled as polling places).  But other than that, why bother?  Other than crushing poor Norm’s dreams of civic duty, not a damn thing was decided today.  We get to do it all over again in four weeks.

Lincoln needs to move away from holding city elections on odd-numbered years, and pair up all local elections with the state and federal elections in even-numbered years.  Yes that might mean some years there is a ballot full of candidates, which could mean some voters aren’t properly educated on their City Council candidates.  But the trade-off is a much better voter turnout when there is an election, and a general public that is not apathetic about a fundamental freedom that millions of people have died for.

Give me something to vote for and I’ll be there to vote (and I’ll take my young daughter with me so she learns the importance of voting).  But I’m not going to waste my time to rubber stamp a bunch of people running unopposed.

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