Perhaps one of the saddest trends in today’s society is the lack of interest in exercising that precious right to vote.
This year’s primary is the earliest it has ever been, after a federal judge ordered that primaries for congressional offices needed to be held to allow enough time for overseas ballots to be sent if there is a runoff.
State legislators agreed, so the state and local primary races this year will also be on the mid-May ballot.
For many, this is good news. The mid-May date means more people, including teachers, will be in town instead of on vacation as often happens in mid-July primaries.
But it also means that voters must be alerted to the change and must be alert enough to get out to the polls.
In Cherokee County, Elections Supervisor Janet Munda pushed to get notice of the earlier election date sent out in 65,000 county water bills this month to announce the change in the election time.
But even with all the efforts to educate the public, she is only predicting a voter turnout of 25 to 30 percent of the county’s 140,000 registered voters will take the time to cast a ballot.
That is sad, because it leaves many important local races up to only a small percentage of those who actually live in the county.
With a majority of the seats up for grabs on both the Cherokee County Board of Education and the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners, the election is an important one for local issues.
Just as important is the ability to weigh in on who will be governor for the next four years, as well as who will represent Cherokee County in the U.S. House and Senate.
All of Cherokee County lies in the 11th Congressional District, and the representative we help choose will be our only voice in the U.S. House. With six candidates vying in that race, it seems a shoe-in to go to a runoff.
Equally important is the Senate race, and Cherokee County voters are getting plenty of chances to meet the Republican candidates as they make the prime GOP stronghold a frequent stop on the campaign trail.
Four of the candidates — U.S. Reps. Paul Broun and Jack Kingston, Karen Handel and Arthur Gardner — were on hand at the annual Cagle’s Forum sponsored by the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce and Farm Bureau this week.
Handel will be back in town on Monday to stump on the first day of early voting, bringing Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer for a rally in support of her Senate campaign at Sixes Tavern in Canton.
And the other candidates — including Rep. Phil Gingrey, who represents Cherokee right now in Congress — are sure to be familiar sights in the next three weeks.
Munda also pointed out that there are only 21 days of early voting, not 45 like two years ago, and that might come as a surprise, too.
But surprise or not, now is the time to let your voice be heard and get out and vote, before it is too late.