Our test

Aug 19, 2012 By Steven R. Peck

Can Fremont County still produce big voter turnout for a primary?

We have an election Tuesday of the primary variety. Voters will narrow the field to a pair of finalists in most of the races. Others, unless write-in candidates emerge, apparently will be uncontested.

That's odd considering how much general discontent with government is expressed by the public. Given the grousing, it would seem logical that the ballot would be full to bursting with candidates out to prove they can do a better job. But, year after year, many races don't even present a contest to the voters. It's as if the grumblers are saying "You numbskulls in office aren't good -- but I don't think I could do any better."

Thankfully, such is not the case across the entire ballot. Fremont County has some good competition for a couple of legislative seats, some county commission spots, and a few city council openings among our county's six incorporated cities and towns.

The worry in 2012 is that the radical changes in how we vote, and for whom we can vote, will erode our county's marvleous record of participation in local elections. Will all the new districting and bordering make voters either confused, uninterested or exasperated? There is some scowl-inducing irony in the knowledge that the court-ordered changes which have brought us here are intended to improve elections but were not voted on by the retail practitioners of democracy, nor have they appeared to improve the election experience at all.

In our first couple of cracks at staging an election under this new order of things, voter participation plummeted from expected levels. There were some unusual circumstances that could have played a part in the sharply lower figures. That makes the 2012 primary Tuesday all the more intriguing.

Do we still have it in us to go to the polls in large numbers, ensuring a fair contest, a fully legitimate result, and a strong mandate for the winners?

Surely we all would like to believe the answer to that question is yes. But there's only one way to prove it -- from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. this Tuesday. Far worse than griping about government is griping about a government you played no role in selecting.

So play the role.

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