On the Fourth of July, I refl ected on the state of our democracy and our most recent
election. Voter turnout in Cottage Grove’s May election was 21%.
Four out of five eligible voters did not vote. Only 2,600 voted out of 14,730 in a state that
makes voting as easy and as effortless as can be through its mailing of voter pamphlets,
mail-in ballots, and accessible ballot drop boxes. We tend to look at who won or lost, not
the level of participation.
Democracy, if we choose to keep it alive, needs the participation of all its citizens and
low voter turnout is dangerous.
I ask that South Lane citizens refl ect on that sad statistic. Low voter turnout in the school
board election meant that 13% of eligible voters determined the outcome. 1,300 votes cast
meant our school board lost its board chair and another experienced board member willing
to serve another term. It meant a small minority chose who served on the school board.
Minority rule can happen again if people don’t vote.
In addition to the U.S.A., I have lived and traveled in countries where people fought
and died to vote. This privilege should not be taken lightly. As citizens we not only have
rights, but also responsibilities, among them: being informed, participating in public
discourse, and voting.
When the next election comes along, let’s get out the vote to show we are serious about
keeping our democracy alive and strong.
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” – Quote often incorrectly attributed to Abraham Lincoln