Archive for Thursday, February 24, 2005

Opinion: Don’t forget to vote

February 24, 2005

Although one might say it's "just a primary," next Tuesday is another of those where-the-rubber-meets-the-road days in the Great American Experiment.

Most readers who follow such things will be aware that Tuesday is primary election day. And though there's still more to come (the general election is April 5), voters in Basehor, Bonner Springs and Edwardsville face quite a few decisions already.

For Basehor voters the situation is a little more complicated than first might appear because two of the five candidates in the City Council race -- Bob Moore and James Washington -- have said they want to pull out of the race. The law making no provision for candidates who withdraw after the filing deadline passes, their names must remain on the ballot.

In Bonner Springs, three candidates -- incumbent Doug Clements plus challengers Christy Gray-Tiner and Earnie Holloway -- seek to move on the the general election.

In Edwardsville the ballots will be even more crowded, with four candidates in each Council race and three candidates for mayor. The candidates are: Incumbent Pat Isenhour, facing challengers Michael A. Cox, Tom Farris and Andy Hess, for one Council seat; and incumbent Bob Lane and challengers Cyndi Marble, Mike Stinnett and Betty Waldo for the other. Incumbent Stephanie Eickhoff faces opposition from Council member Jennifer Barnett and challenger Bryan Alldafer.

A veritable blizzard of candidates -- nine in all -- are trying to succeed retiring Carol Marinovich as mayor/ceo of the Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan., Unified Government. From the crowded field of Jimmie Banks, John Culler, Helen Marie Fotovich, Mike Gilstrap, David Haley, Terry Harvey, Joe Reardon, Rick Rehorn and Doug Spangler, two will advance to the general election.

As a matter of policy, we don't endorse candidates for office. But that doesn't mean we don't see how important these decisions are. We just figure people can be trusted to make up their own minds.

Our no-endorsement policy notwithstanding, we do have a preference, and that is this: that everyone vote. Over the years, we Americans have ceded our most basic responsibility to fewer and fewer of our fellow citizens. Each year, it seems, smaller proportions of the electorate exercise that most basic of all our cherished rights: the right to vote.

The numbers are chilling. Typically, in an off-year election, well under half those eligible to vote cast their ballots. In a close contested race, this means that the decision is actually made by just slightly more than a fourth of the people.

Should you think that your vote doesn't really count, just remember that, in every election, one finds races that are decided by just a handful of votes. For those who have forgotten, one of the Council races in the last Bonner Springs election was decided by a mere handful of votes.

Whether it consists of marking an "X" with a pencil, pulling a handle or touching a spot on a computer screen, the act of voting is a holy one, and the voting booth, hallowed ground. Our democracy rests on the consent of the governed, and the voting booth is where that consent is tendered.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.