Editorial: Voting is more than a right; it's a responsibility

Aug. 05, 2014 @ 02:43 PM

People love to complain about politics.

Politicians, and their decisions, votes and agendas, are often hot-button issues on social media, at the water cooler and in newspapers, on television and on radio.

The appalling thing, however, is how few people actually care enough to go out and do something about it.

In the county primary in May, which essentially sewed up the election for the majority of local candidates, the most votes cast in any race was just over 8,800 in the sheriff's race. Overall, 9,318 ballots were cast.

That represents just a fraction of the total electorate, 18 percent.

"I can remember 17 percent — I believe it was (also in) a primary," J.B. Matthews, chairman of the Sevier County Election Commission said on election night back in May. "It's a very low vote."

At the time, Matthews speculated that there weren't enough candidates with opposition to draw much of a crowd.

By contrast, around 60 percent of registered voters practiced their voting rights in the 2012 election, which included the presidential race and other hot-button issues, like liquor by the drink in Pigeon Forge. 

It's sad for our community when so many are disinterested in a process critical to good government. Some may feel disenfranchised, so they simply opt out of the process. Others may feel they are too tied up with their daily lives to take the few minutes it would require to drive to a polling place and make their selections on the digital election machine.

Thursday's election might not have the same excitement and white-hot political emotions of 2012, but there are important issues that warrant a good turnout. Decisions are being made that will affect the future of our county, our state and our federal government.

There are contested races for the U.S. House of Representatives and Congress, a highly-debated Tennessee Supreme Court retention race, area appellate judges retention bids and several local races up for grabs.

These are offices that can, and will, affect our daily lives as citizens of Sevier County. If you are one of the 51,918 registered voters, express your opinion on how local, state and national government should be run. Go out and vote on Thursday.

It's among the most patriot things you can do.