Editorial: It's time for voters to step up, get to polls
Months upon months of often rancorous campaigning are almost over. Voters have heard the candidates' views, positions, claims and counterclaims. On Tuesday, the American public will have a chance to express their own views where it matters most -- on their ballots.
No matter whom they select, we hope the voters sing out in a chorus of full involvement in the most fundamental process of our democracy, choosing those who will represent them in all levels of government.
If they do, that will be a welcome reversal from recent election trends in which voter turnout for the most part has steadily declined.
For decades, the percentage of West Virginia's registered voters casting ballots in presidential elections was in the upper 60s and 70s. But the percentage has generally slipped, to the point in the 2008 general election it fell to 59 percent, according to records kept by the Secretary of State's Office.
Turnout in both Ohio and Kentucky was stronger than West Virginia's in 2008, with 70 percent and 64 percent participation, respectively. But in the Tri-State area, it should be noted that turnout was lower than statewide averages in Lawrence County, Ohio, and Boyd County, Kentucky, and both of those counties had substantially lower turnouts in the 2008 presidential election than in 2004.
The growing lack of determination among voters to cast ballots is puzzling. Perhaps it's the supercharged partisan wrangling that's turned off voters. Or the wall-to-wall, mostly negative campaign ads that are run incessantly on TV. Maybe people think their votes don't really matter.
But every vote does matter, as evidenced by razor-thin vote margins in past elections, not only on the national level but in local races as well.
And the issues that are affected by who wins and who loses in these elections can have a bearing on many aspects of our lives, from the taxes we pay, to the quality of government services we receive, to the impact on our health care, and to what may happen to educational and job opportunities.
Voting does indeed matter, and it's disturbing to think that a shrinking number of people continue to make the decisions that can affect all of us.
So we ask voters to think hard about whether they want to be simply bystanders in Tuesday's election or show the willingness to exercise their right -- and fulfill their duty as a citizen -- to cast a ballot.
We hope they choose the latter.
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