HomeOpinionLocal elections should drive voter turnout

Local elections should drive voter turnout

By Brandon Shields

Managing editor

Tuesday is the first of three election days Madison County will be a part of this year.

It’s the Presidential preference primary as well as the local county primary election.

The other two elections we’ll have this year will come in August for the local general election and state primaries followed by the federal and state general elections in November.

As of Monday, Feb. 26, the county has had 2,432 people take part in early voting (with two days remaining to vote early as of the time I’m writing this).

I went by there about mid-day on Tuesday, and there appeared to be a steady stream of people moving through on their lunch break then.

But out of 62,548 registered voters in the county, so far, there is a voter turnout of a little less than 4 percent. 

Comparing that to past years in a similar vote, the 2020 primary vote had a combined 11,542 votes cast in the Presidential primaries. 

I couldn’t find a line on the reports from those results what the exact turnout rate was, but if we base it on the current numbers for registered voters, we’re looking at about 18.5 percent voter turnout.

The primary numbers in 2016 were significantly higher when former President Barack Obama was wrapping up his tenure in the White House, so there was actual competition in both parties.

Democratic Party members cast 5,396 votes in that election. Republicans cast 12,029. Based on this year’s numbers of registered voters, those combine for a voter turnout rate of just under 28 percent.

So if this year’s primary voting turnout is to come anywhere close to its predecessors, then the workers at the voting precincts on Tuesday will be working hard getting voters in and out for 12 full hours until polls close at 7 p.m.

But there’s good reason for there not to be as much interest in this primary, which means fewer voters.

Incumbent Joe Biden should wrap up the Democratic nomination as the incumbent typically does, and of course, Donald Trump is being unusual with running again after having lost his bid for re-election four years ago and appears to have the Republican nomination wrapped up already.

So if all you as a voter is concerned with is the Presidential election, I understand your apathy toward this election. But what I don’t understand is the Presidential election being all you’re concerned with.

There are three contested local primaries in the school board races – two of which have no opposition in the general election – that will determine the direction of the Jackson-Madison County School System in the coming years.

There’s a primary for the property assessor position in the county that will undoubtedly will affect property tax rates in the coming years.

It’s been said by multiple people in multiple opinion pieces in this paper before, and I will say it again.

As much fun as it is for a lot of you to watch cable news and see what’s going on with the senior citizens who are vying for the job of President and as entertaining as their antics at press conferences and campaign events are, whoever wins their race will have no direct effect on what happens in Madison County.

The policies enacted by the winner will generate changes that will affect us, I get that. 

But neither Donald Trump nor Joe Biden will do anything that will affect Madison County directly like the winners of the school board and property assessor races will.

So keep watching your cable news. Keep laughing at the public relations stumbles of Trump and Biden.

But there are five out of nine seats up for election on the JMCSS Board right now, and whomever wins on Tuesday or in August will directly affect the school system, the students in the coming years and quite possibly the local economy and society as a whole in the next generation depending on the decisions made regarding the district’s leadership, policies and indirectly, the workforce development and local economy in the longer-term future.

That should by why you’re coming out to vote, and then cast a vote for President while you’re at it.

Brandon Shields is the managing editor of The Jackson Post. Contact him at brandon@jacksonpost.news. Follow him on Twitter @JSEditorBrandon or Instagram @Editorbrandon.

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