Really, Washington? I know ballots are still being counted, but the latest results as of Saturday evening indicate a 46 percent voter turnout in this year’s elections — statewide and in King County. As Seattle Times news reporter Jim Brunner pointed out in this Friday news story (when state turnout was reported at 44.5 percent and King County turnout was 47 percent), we’re seeing the lowest voter participation numbers in a decade.
Washington voters are not exactly living up to their reputation as the 13th most active electorate in the nation in 2012 with a 65 percent voter turnout rate, according to this March 2013 report in The Washington Post’s ‘The Fix’ blog.
Clearly, there’s a disconnect between voters and the issues, and that’s too bad. People either don’t care or don’t believe they have a voice in the democratic process.
Or maybe they agree with British comedian Russell Brand, who delivered a stinging criticism of voting (seen in the video below) in an October interview with BBC’s “Newsnight.” It went viral on the Internet. I suspect that’s because many subscribe to his view that he never votes “out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery and deceit from the political class that’s been going on for generations now.”
Brand is always charming, but there’s just no excuse to not vote. Citizens are still responsible for putting good — and, yes, sometimes very bad — people in public office. Indifference allows those bad apples to stay in power.
Here in Washington, counties send those ballots right to our mailbox. Each name printed on those sheets of paper has the power to change the way we live.
What would have happened if Chris Gregoire had not won her election in 2004 over Dino Rossi by a mere 133 votes? Or if state Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, had not won his legislative seat over Democrat Tim Probst by 78 votes in 2012? (For one thing, the Majority Coalition Caucus would not have formed with a one-seat advantage over Democrats and the Legislature might have passed a transportation package that funds a project Benton loathes: the Columbia River Crossing bridge project on Interstate 5, complete with light rail.)
In this election cycle, the SeaTac Proposition 1 minimum wage initiative is hanging on to a puny 46-vote lead as of Saturday evening. Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin conceded Friday after returns showed socialist candidate Kshama Sawant is winning, 50.5 percent to 49.2 percent. Both races will have major ramifications for the region, which we won’t be able to see till months from now.
So yes, every vote counts. And elections do have consequences. It’s too bad 56 percent of this state’s population don’t agree.
Did you vote? Why or why not?
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