Go to the polls today

Nov. 04, 2013 @ 05:07 PM

We know that what we’re about to say may be preaching to the choir or, carrying that analogy forward, trying to reach out to folks who’ve gone picnicking during the worship hour.

But we’ll say it anyway – today’s Election Day, and you should go to the polls if you’re not one of the relative handful of folks who showed up for early, one-stop voting. In Durham, for example, 2,491 people took advantage of the opportunity to vote early – just about 1.5 percent of the city’s registered voters.

Of course, that’s an increase by about a third over the 1,867 who early voted in last month’s primary – so if the pattern holds today, maybe we’ll break 10 percent for turnout.

Granted, this is hardly a barn-burner of an election. If you live in an unincorporated area of Durham or Orange counties, you’ll have no reason to vote today. Only municipal offices are on the ballot.

And while there are some spirited council and alderman races, three area mayors – in Chapel Hill, Hillsboro and Carrboro – have no opponent on the ballot. 

Never is there any shortage of reasons not to vote. We’re all busy.  It takes effort to go to the polls.  We may rationalize that our single vote will make no difference. We may not be enthusiastic about any candidate.

We may not care about who is making the decisions in our town. 

That seems a shame. The people voters will elect today will make decisions on issues and questions that are much closer and will have more direct impact on residents than many, if not most, of the decisions made in Raleigh or Washington.

Perhaps the reasons people may find for not voting may have ballooned this year with the circus in the nation’s capital over government shut-downs, debt limits and endless partisan bickering over small-bore fragments of large, important issues.

But locally, incumbents and challengers alike are generally public-spirited folks who care about the places they live.  Sure, it’s easy to be cynical, and it’s easy to find fault with the precise motivations and encouragement of one candidate or the other.

So we encourage you today to set aside your cynicism.  You may not in fact sway an election – but you’ll reinforce the candidate’s realization that they must make their case to the voters. You’ll reaffirm that we believe that representative government does count for something, and that our participation in elections makes us more deeply engaged and involved citizens.

Our bet is that if 10 percent or so of the registered voters in Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough vote by 7:30 p.m. today when the polls close, far more than that will emerge over the next two years to complain about decisions the councils, the aldermen and the school board make.

If you’re not one of those who cast a ballot, we suggest that that weakens considerably your claim to weigh in later on how those you didn’t bother to vote for or against are carrying out their responsibilities.

Please – go vote!