Every Election Day I look forward with anticipation, thinking this will be the one that will exceed my voter-turnout expectations. And almost every time, I end up feeling like Charlie Brown. You know the Peanuts character who, hoping against all odds, that this time, Lucy wont pull the same old gag and lift the football just as Charlie sets to kick it. Lucy has that got-you-again-sucker smile on her face and old Charlie, lying on his back, looking up at the sky, has a she-did-it-to-me-again frown. He realizes something Lucy already knows. Charlie is always a sucker.
When it comes to voting, Im Charlie, and last Tuesdays election proved that once again, Im a sucker to think Bibb County voters would actually turn out in droves to elect representatives of the new consolidated government. All of the candidates have got to be scratching their heads. Mayoral candidate C. Jack Ellis, known for his ability to marshal his base, said turnout was Very disappointing, given the importance of this election ... I dont know what more my campaign couldve done.
It had been said during the lead up to this election with its changed dates that African-American turnout always hit the skids in summer elections.
Thats true, but white voters also are less likely to take the time to vote in pre-November elections.
Not one district matched its 2010 turnout numbers. In predominately white District 1, 1,617 fewer voters went to the polls when compared to 2010 when Roy Barnes and Nathan Deal squared off for the governors office.
This election did not turn out the way its architects, Rep. Allen Peake and state Sen. Cecil Staton intended. Its hard to talk about a consolidation mandate when 56 percent of the voters decided to sit this one out. Do we have to have a Barack Obama on the ballot to get people out of their chaise lounges and into a voting booth?
Granted, this election had more ups and downs than a Six Flags roller coaster. Im sure some were deterred by the long wait during the early voting period and the associated ballot snafus. As I stood in line at the Board of Elections office waiting to vote, several people came in and left. There was no waiting on Election Day.
There are other statistics worth noting. In each district the voting age population more than doubled the actual voters in 2010, and in most districts, two-thirds of the voting age population, didnt vote.
So what does that mean? It means that every vote cast is a super vote. Each has double or triple the power of a single vote. There is part of me that, if I were more cynical, would relish such an arrangement, but I dont because a representative government only works when there is participation by those being represented.
I get a little ticked when someone, rather proudly, announces that they didnt vote. I pull out Rule No. 1: He who argues with a fool is a fool. If I start to forget Rule No. 1 by explaining all the reasons why they should vote, I refer to Rule No. 2, which tells me to remember Rule No.1.
I do take a mental picture of the people who blithely go about their day not even knowing an election is taking place. I want to remember them so if there comes an occasion for an I-told-you-so moment, it wont go to waste.
When someone spouts off about what the city or county or state or federal governments should do or shouldve done, I ask a simple question, Did you vote?
If the person begins stuttering, grasping for a valid reason (There are none) for why they didnt vote, I softly say to myself, Remember Rule No. 1 and walk away leaving them stuttering to themselves.
No need to participate in a conversation that would make both of us look foolish in the end. Him/her for trying to justify the unjustifiable and me for taking the time to listen.
Charles E. Richardson is The Telegraphs editorial page editor. He can be reached at (478)744-4342 or via email at email@example.com. Tweet@crichard1020.