Did You Vote?

Did You Vote?

by Chuck Roy

Of course, voting is a right and a privilege, but it is not mandatory. As witnessed during last week’s City Council, Bond Proposals, and School Board races, the people of Winnsboro are very typical of the national averages when it comes to casting a ballot.

However, if voters can’t get worked up after everything we’ve witnessed from our national political shenanigans, you have to wonder why. No doubt instant pundits and local bloggers will let us know. But for me, it’s deceptively simple.

Many local citizens treat politics like their favorite football team: no matter how badly your team plays, you don’t switch to the opposition. You might stop going to games (i.e., not voting) but that’s as far as it goes.

It’s debatable whether election results would be different if our entire population had voted, but voting determines more than which candidate wins or loses. It ultimately influences which policies elected officials enact and whose interests candidates ignore and acknowledge.

On Saturday, voting day, I was at the WCA’s Book Festival. I met a lot of people and even asked a few if they may have voted. I did not ask who, or what, they had voted for, but rather the simple and unprepossessing, “Have you voted today?”

I was not surprised that only asking a few people would be a general indicator of participation, but the answer I got from one person was startling.

This lady, 31-years old and a lifelong resident of Winnsboro said, “I never vote,” and she’s obviously proud of her record. She added, “I feel like my voice doesn’t matter. Those individuals are elected because they won a popularity contest, or a beauty pageant, and those who suck are still in office year after year, so it doesn’t make a difference.”

This lady might sound contrarian, but she’s not. Nationally, for every 10 adults eligible to vote, only about four cast a ballot. And that dismal number is even worse in most of NETx.

Although a lot of the people I spoke with prior to the elections say they’re more enthusiastic about voting, come Election Day, nonvoters like this lady were still the norm.

For Winnsboro, life will go on. The failure to fund civic improvements (Market Street, Civic Center, Parking, etc.) is disappointing, but it is not the end of the world. The engagement of the street improvements represents the greatest benefit to all of the citizens and visitors of our city.

I had hoped that more of the city improvements had been passed. A beautiful downtown is like a welcome mat for all. But people will still come to Winnsboro even if the welcome mat may be just a bit threadbare, for it is the vitality of the city that they come.