With so much riding on the 2019 election cycle, it was troubling to see the low voter turnout in last week's election. Locally, just over 20% of registered voters showed up at the polls. Statewide, the percentage was very similar. And, while that topped the prediction of the Secretary of State's Office, it was nonetheless abysmal.
Across Marshall County, the faces and comments of precinct workers told the story. "Slow, slow, slow," commented one as I chatted with her at my polling location as I prepared to cast my vote. She yawned unintentionally as the words were coming from her mouth. It had been a long day for her and others across the county who were charged with working the polls.
It occurred to me as I walked to my car from voting that several candidates for key state offices were going to advance to the November race as a result of last week's election despite the fact that only a small percentage of voters showed up to vote. It also occurred to me that all of those who didn't vote would nonetheless have a large impact on the outcome of the election.
A check with our County Clerk's Office illustrates the story in real numbers, not just a poll worker's yawn. Marshall County has 25,933 registered voters. Of those, 5,604 voted. That's a little over 21%.
And while those numbers are nothing to be proud of from the standpoint of civic involvement, other counties fared worse. McCracken County reported 17% of registered voters cast a ballot, Graves saw 18.3% show up and eastward up the road a bit, Christian County reported under 10% voter participation.
Somehow, despite the recent barrage of television ads, many of those registered and eligible to vote said they hadn't realized there was even an election on Tuesday. That's hard to imagine.
Kentuckians have no doubt disengaged from the political process. And who could blame them? The nastiness among parties and candidates has become far too bitter for many to handle at not only the national level, but also at the state and local levels in many communities.
Unfortunately, it's only through our citizens' active involvement in the choosing of local and state officials that we can rest assured our important issues will be handled with the best interest of the majority. Until then, all the social media whining and coffee shop complaining won't do a thing to fix the important problems we face.
Thank goodness there are still those who put themselves out there to hold elected offices. With the current apathy among voters, the expense of running a campaign and the scrutiny of the public, it's a wonder anyone wants to take on that responsibility. Whether a winner or loser last Tuesday, the candidates should be commended for showing up.