Get out the vote, or get the voters out?
A proposal is in the offing to reduce the number of voting precincts
by half, in order to save money and work. The logic seems to be that fewer and fewer voters go to the polls on election day, so why bother?
It would save even more money and work if we just shut down all the polls and let the votes fall where they may.
The daily newspaper even endorses this mistake.
The outcome is likely to be even lower turnout and reduced participation in local government, which is the precise opposite of what our elected representatives should seek. Engaging citizens at the level of government that lives closest to them is the founding principal of democracy. National politics - where actual voters have little impact - are almost meaningless in comparison.
In Lakeland, a few thousand of us can steer the city and prompt the progress that we see as best for us. More would be better. Fewer will be worse.
Many voters choose election day voting as a cherished right, long denied them by powerful interests who prefer small, reliable voting blocs. Many choose election day voting to avoid the pitfall of voting early (or by mail) and watching their candidate disappoint them at the last minute.
The widespread failure of the national parties is one reason our city commissioners are elected as non-partisans and all citizens can vote for all of them. The fact that so few of us do is a disgrace and we must own that failure ourselves. But the city’s idea will make it more likely that even fewer of us will bother.
And now we have a perfect moment to confirm it. Contact the commissioners and register your view. Let them count the “votes” and help them decide. This is our role. Our privilege. Our duty.
Otherwise, don’t bother complaining when things don’t go your way.