Exercise your voting rights

Oct. 07, 2013 @ 05:05 PM

Let’s face it. Americans right now don’t have much use for government – or at least for the people who are governing them.

In Washington, our national leaders are locked in an epic showdown, a gunfight-at-the-OK-corral shootout that is liable to leave casualties on both sides.  One can debate who is at fault, or most at fault, for getting us to this impasse, but the outcome is that vast swathes of our government are shut down and the public is dismayed. 

Politicians whose level of debate has sunk to new depths in recent years are discovering ever more imaginative ways to insult one another and to utter claptrap and nonsense.

We’re willing to stipulate that many of you reading this would rather think about almost anything today other than politics and politicians. But whatever your view of the mess in Washington – or the antics of our General Assembly in Raleigh earlier this year – you should remember that today is an opportunity to vote for offices that are closest to home and likely to have an impact on your day-to-day life.

Today is primary election day in Durham.

We know this has not been an election to set the blood racing for any but the most devoted political junkies and local activists -- and perhaps the close families of the candidates.

In fact, voters today, like their 1,876 fellow citizens who already have cast early-voting ballots, will settle nothing finally. They’ll winnow the field to two candidates each in the only two races on the.

In the mayor’s race, incumbent Bill Bell is facing challenges from lightly funded Michael Valentine and Sylvester Williams. One will be eliminated today. Four candidates are competing for the open seat in Ward II – Eddie Davis, Franklin O. Hanes, Del Mattioli and Omar Beasley. Two will be eliminated.

The top two finishers in each race will face each other, joining Don Moffitt and Pam Karriker in Ward III and the unopposed Cora Cole-McFadden in Ward 1.

Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. today. While council members must live in the ward they represent, they are elected city-wide. Any registered Durham voter can vote in every ward race.

Don’t expect long lines at the polls, if the past is any indication. In recent years, primaries have failed to attract more than one voter in 10, and sometimes half that.

But voting is not only a fundamental right, but also, we believe, an obligation. We joined many other voices criticizing the recent legislative session for its efforts to make voting more difficult, efforts thinly cloaked as streamlining the process or guarding against virtually nonexistent voter fraud.

Defending the right to vote is important. So is fulfilling the obligation. We urge you, if you haven’t voted early, to defy primary precedent and show up at your polling place today.