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November 4, 2013

Letters to Star belie lack of voter interest

The Daily Star

---- — If voters aren’t supposed to care about off-year elections, there would seem to be a lot of local folks who didn’t get the memo. 

Sure, you don’t hear about the races for highway superintendent, town supervisor or county rep on CNN, and the people seeking (or even holding) these offices might not be household names. But they are, in many cases, your neighbors, your colleagues, your friends and relatives, your old Boy Scout troop leader or former teacher. 

And if our letters to the editor column is any indication, you feel strongly about these folks. 

Just as surely as the signs for candidates begin dotting the landscape in the weeks leading up to the vote, so does The Daily Star’s in-box begin to bulge with letters advocating for, or against, various candidates. 

And each year, it is a testament to our involved citizenry that, without the aid of any machine-style politics or massive media campaigns, there are plenty of folks who take the time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to spell out exactly what they think about “their” candidate. 

We’ve lost track of the number of election letters we received this year, but this week alone, we will have printed around 100 letters, many of them landing during the last 24 hours before our deadline (which was Tuesday). Many of them appeared in The Daily Star’s Weekend edition, in an expanded Lifestyle/Commentary section that we beefed up to accommodate the bulk of all these letters. More appear in today’s edition — the last that we will print before the vote. 

It’s easy to imagine a disinterested citizenry, for whom local elections are nothing more than another day on the calendar. And it is, dishearteningly, true that voter turnout continues to be low in these off-year elections. 

But we know, from reading these letters, that you care. You care about who’s managing the finances in your town; how your roads are maintained; how your county government will face issues such as economic development and the tax cap. 

It would also be easy to write off these letters (no pun intended) as the vocal minority. But we don’t believe that’s true. We believe that most of us truly do care about the issues facing local government. 

So prove us right. Go to the polls Tuesday and cast your vote for the candidates that represent your views. The polls open early (6 a.m.) and stay open late (until 9 p.m.), so even if you have to work, you should be able to find time to get to your polling place. (A list of polling places can be found in today’s Daily Star.)