Is the ballot box half-empty or half-full?
While results from last week’s primary election have not been finalized, a twist on the age-old philosophical question seems relevant as we examine the results.
Voter turnout in Clark County appears to have been about 25 percent, according to numbers from the county auditor’s office. On one hand, that is a marked improvement from the previous odd-year primary; turnout in August 2017 was 20 percent. On the other hand, the numbers reinforce our concern that Americans are allowing their democracy to wilt from inattention. Turnout of 25 percent is nothing to celebrate — even if it is an improvement. Statewide turnout was about 30 percent.
Look at it this way: There are nearly 239,000 registered voters in Clark County, and roughly 191,000 of them opted to let their neighbors choose the people who will be deciding local tax rates and what kind of books our children read in schools.
Of course, this was only a primary, narrowing the field of candidates in each race. History suggests that turnout will be higher for the Nov. 5 general election, but it still will reflect a troubling level of disinterest in our electoral institutions. If we don’t exercise our democracy, it will atrophy.
Meanwhile, the primary provided some interesting results in setting the matchups for the general election.
Among them is the race for county councilor between Gary Medvigy and Adrian Cortes. Medvigy was appointed earlier this year to fill a vacant seat, requiring that the position be on the ballot. But with only two candidates, the primary was nothing more than a dress rehearsal, as both were guaranteed to advance; for many voters in the county, it was the only contest on their ballot — and it was a pointless one.
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