This past Tuesday it was election day across the country. I didn’t even know it was election day until 1:30 in the morning, when I happened to come across a headline mentioning it. When I expressed myself on Twitter, one of my friends wrote back and said that it’s always the first Tuesday in November. However, the previous two years I was out of town on election day and I didn’t use the absentee ballot to make a decision ahead of time.

Oklahoma Primary Ballots - Beckham County Ballot
K. Latham via Compfight

So in early afternoon, I hopped in the car and drove over to where I vote. There were very few cars in the parking lot, and when I went inside it turned out that most of those cars belonged to the people who were there verifying the people so they could fill out their ballots.

I got mine, and I walked over to a table where I was behind a partition. I opened it up and was dismayed at what I saw. There were no initiatives on the ballot, so I had only the option of voting for 10 office positions. Out of those 10 office positions, only two people had opponents running against them. In two of the categories, you had to select two or three people for spots, and there were only two or three people in those categories. This meant that if they were on the ballot they were getting elected. I did something I’ve never done before, that being to write in a candidate’s name for one of the offices; at least I wrote in the name of someone who’s already a politician.

An interesting thing on my particular ballot is that every position that was unopposed was a Republican candidate. When I talked to one of my friends later on, who lives within one of the Syracuse districts, she said that there were a lot of unopposed politicians on hers as well but they were all Democrats.

The part I don’t find incredible anymore is that the number of people voting has been declining year after year. The part that’s actually interesting is just how many positions there were where candidates were running unopposed. It doesn’t seem to matter what political party they’re in anymore, they seem to be pretty much disgusted with the process as we are with politics itself.

What’s happened to us? Probably a couple of things.

One, we’re tired of what’s happening in Washington, where it seems like nothing can get done because everybody wants exactly what they want without compromise so we end up getting nothing.

Two, local politics and parties sometimes means very little. For instance, just because someone runs as a Democrat or Republican for something like town supervisor doesn’t mean they really have the authority to do what they think or tell us they can do. It all comes down to how much money that particular area has, and those with the most money or are willing to make a lot of noise matter more than political affiliation. Some people might think that cynical, but I actually had a local politician tell me that as a fact at a networking event in Liverpool a few years ago.

Also, for the work that most of these people have to do, being a local politician is a pretty lousy job. A lot of those positions pay less than $30,000 a year, and having to be on 24/7 around the clock day after day, plus the prospect of going door to door to get your name known in areas of the city of village you’re not familiar with, I could see where that wouldn’t be seen as all that appealing. I’m not sure I would find it worth my trouble.

Is there anything that can be done about this? There are the few people who believe that voting should be mandatory because it’s mandatory in certain countries around the world. The problem with mandatory voting is that it could be abused as much as it is when not enough people decide to show up. Also, this is America after all; we don’t take kindly to mandatory things like this, even as much as we fuss about politicians not representing our interests.

Personally, I find politics distasteful, even though I vote when I can. I hate the lies and the meanness of the major elections, and I hate not even knowing what’s going on locally in trying to vote for town and village candidates. I also hate the feeling that, when all is said and done, it’s not going to matter who I vote into office one way or another. If I’m feeling this way and vote, it’s hard not to see why others don’t vote.

What’s your thought on this?

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