Column: Where were the voters?

Comment: Off

By LINDA WOODLAND
MANAGING EDITOR

Over the past week I have seen and heard a lot of complaining about Tuesday’s general election results.
There have been a few comments about results in Fostoria’s council and board of education races, but most people are talking about the 6-mill levy that passed by a scant 50 votes.
And while there are still 71 provisional ballots to be counted, it’s most likely those ballots will follow Tuesday’s trend and the levy will narrowly pass by 51 percent.
A few Facebook posts linked to the Review Times’ story updates about Tuesday’s election results were pro-levy and/or trying to explain the economics behind the tax.
But most comments expressed outrage.
“How can this be … unbelievable!” one Facebook post read.
“I’m so very disappointed and PISSED!” another one stated.
Well, me, too.
But not about the levy’s passage.
I am disappointed in the voter turnout.
Fostoria had a 28percent voter turnout Tuesday.
Twenty-eight percent.
Basically, that means a little more than one-quarter of Fostoria’s registered voters decided what is best for the rest of their neighbors.
Although Fostoria has a population of a little more than 13,000 residents, when the 2010 census was taken, there were nearly 10,000 people age 18 and older, most of whom were eligible to vote.
Of those nearly 10,000 age-eligible people, 7,579 were registered to vote in the 2017 election. That’s a little more than 75 percent of Fostoria residents age-eligible to vote. That’s a pretty good voter registration rate.
So where were they Tuesday?
Stated simply, a little more than 70 percent of Fostoria’s registered voters didn’t bother to go to the polls or ask the board of elections for an absentee ballot.
Seventy percent.
For what it’s worth, Fostoria is on track with the rest of Ohio that had a 29.86 percent voter turnout statewide.
I remember a conversation I had with one of my co-workers after an election more than a dozen years ago.
The co-worker was complaining about election results. The co-worker kept going on and on about how horrible it was that a certain candidate/issue was given the nod.
Finally, I asked the co-worker, “Did you vote?”
“Of course not,” the co-worker stated with righteous indignation.
“Then shut up,” I said. “If you don’t do anything to affect change when you have the opportunity, then you should keep your mouth shut when you don’t like the results of your inaction.”
Stunned, the co-worker stopped complaining in front of me.
No doubt, I am preaching from the gutter, not the pulpit. I certainly have not voted every time the polls have been opened since I was 18.
And my reasons are just as pathetic as anyone else’s who fail to exercise their 15th amendment right.
I just can’t help but wonder what the election results would be concerning candidates and issues if everyone — those registered and currently not registered — decided to vote in an election.
I doubt we’ll ever know.

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