Low voter turnout should be corrected

Published 10:36 am Wednesday, June 13, 2018

To the Editor:

As I write this we are having a Republican primary election in Virginia. This election will determine the Republican candidates for U.S. Congress and Senate in November. I consider this election to be very important, but unfortunately, I fear many voters are not aware of the election, [who] the candidates are or they just don’t care. Local turnout is sure to be low. Yet this election will cost us taxpayers almost as much as the national election in November.

There are several reasons for low voter turnout. First is the lack of publicity. I can only remember one letter to the editor of The Tidewater News from someone in Disputana endorsing one of the candidates. Nothing else in The Tidewater News on this primary. The Virginian Pilot ran an editorial today encouraging voters to vote and mentioning the candidates Senate and each of the local Congressional districts — hardly enough to make a qualified decision.

A second reason for low turnout would be where we live. Our low population density doesn’t encourage candidates to spend the time and money to advertise and campaign in our area. But like it or not, the winners of the November election will be our voice in national politics for two years in the House of Representatives and six years in the Senate.

A third reason is tied to the second and that is gerrymandering — or the dividing of our area into divisions that really don’t mean much to any one candidate. The candidates are more likely to be from and campaign in more densely populated areas. Voters get confused when they vote in elections with split precincts. I worked as a poll worker in one election with a split precinct that had only eight voters show up. Six of those voters couldn’t vote because they lived in the wrong side of the precinct.

Fourth, I’ve found It’s difficult to get good information on candidates on the internet — especially at the primary stage. To me it is difficult to actually compare their qualifications from the information available.

What can be done to develop more interest? I believe publicity would help. The Tidewater News could remind us of the primary several weeks in advance and give us at least some biographical information on the candidates once the deadline for qualifying has passed. The parties holding the primaries could also do a better job of publicizing the primaries without endorsing any one candidate. After all, it is the political party that is requiring the election by deciding not to select the candidates in a convention.

With the political division in our country today, it is more important than I can ever remember to exercise our right to vote. There really are differences in the candidates today. We all need to participate in the election process.

Bryan W. Holloman