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Monday, May 2, 2016

Basic Biittner: Voter turnout deplorable

Monday, September 26, 2005

I was disappointed, but not surprised when I read what the voter turnout (to use he term loosely) was in Cherokee County for the September 13 School Board elections. The highest "turnout" was in the River Valley School District, where a rousing 16.25 percent of registered voters chose to exercise their privilege to help choose the people who will be responsible for making decisions that will affect the children of their communities for the next three years.

It was noted in the Chronicle Times that River Valley's "turnout" was by far the largest in the county. My hometown of Aurelia had only 4.58 percent of registered voters cast their vote, and county seat Cherokee, by far the largest community in the county, had just 1.76 percent vote.

Granted, the Aurelia and Cherokee "contests" were not really contests, and the number of candidates in both cases equaled the number of open seats on the Board.

I was not surprised by the low totals because 10+ years ago, when yours truly was on the Aurelia School Board, in one election I believe the total number of voters was in the forties, and of the people who were voting when I did (after work, at around 5 p.m.), All had "ties" to the school -- that is, they were School Board members or teachers and other school employees.

Personally, it has been a dozen years since I have had children of my own in the local school system, but I have continued to vote because I am still a part of the community, and want the students to have the best education they can get -- just as the Aurelia students have been receiving for more than one hundred years. Important decisions will need to be made by the Board members in the coming years, and I feel we do have a competent group to make these decisions.

However, if I were still a Board member, I'd feel more confident in making decisions if I knew that I'd been elected by a majority of registered voters, rather than less than five per cent -- many of whom were employed by the school and/or did not have children currently in the school system.

For those of you who continue to feel that your vote won't make a difference, I need only to refer you to the Presidential Election of 2000, and, of greater local significance (and more related to the topic of my rant), the school board election in Aurelia prior to the recent one, in which a write-in candidate was elected to office.

Voting may be a right, but it's also a privilege - one which is not shared by all citizens of the world, and not appreciated or used by nearly enough citizens in this country, " The land of the free."

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner