Many Liberty County residents have an important job to tackle Tuesday at the polls. Here’s hoping they buck the recent low-turnout trends and rise to the occasion. There sure is a lot at stake.
Hinesville, Walthourville, Riceboro and Gum Branch all will elect mayors and city council members. The candidates have run their campaigns; the ballot machines are ready and poll workers soon will be standing by. With luck, they’ll stay busy from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on Election Day. However, if recent elections are a good indication, that may not be the
Liberty County’s last big election, the Nov. 2, 2010, sheriff’s race, drew only 10,078 voters. It ended in a runoff between candidates Steve Sikes and Warren Waye. The Nov. 30 runoff drew about 7,000 voters, which means many who cast ballots the first time around did return to help make the final decision. That is good, but to put it in perspective, Liberty County is home to more than 63,000 people, 28,683 of whom are registered. Where were the others? Why didn’t they exercise their right to vote?
In March, Liberty County residents voted to continue the 1 percent Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. It passed with 472 votes in favor of the measure and 209 votes against it, for a total of 681 votes. That’s a dismal turnout if ever there was one. Surprisingly, not even decisions regarding the payment of sales taxes could draw residents to the polls.
Liberty County, make this Election Day different. Go vote. If you’re not planning on going to the polls this time either because you figure your one vote won’t count for much, think again. Many important people have come to power and historic measures have been passed thanks to one vote.
In the 1800 presidential election, Thomas Jefferson was elected by one vote in the House of Representatives after he tied with Aaron Burr in the Electoral College. The same thing happened in 1824 when another Electoral College tie sent the vote to the House of Representatives, where Andrew Jackson beat John Quincy Adams by a single vote.
In 1918, the House of Representatives passed the 19th Amendment by one vote, thus giving women the right to vote. Women nearly missed out on the opportunity to choose those who represent them and weigh in on important matters. And now that they have that privilege, it’s often taken for granted.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking your participation in the democratic process is immaterial. History has taught us that one vote can carry a lot of weight. Why not put yours to good use?