I find it disturbing that out of almost 109,000 registered voters in Ulster County, with about two thirds of them registered in the two major parties, less that 5,000 votes were cast in the Federal Primary of June 26, 2012.
I wonder if the causes of this record low turnout are scrutinized by the party leaders, and an effort is made to remedy the situation. The lowest low belongs to the Republican Party, where only about 1,070 registered voters from the county's almost 30,000 registered Republicans went to cast their vote.
The Republican Party voters had to choose among three candidates for U.S. Senator: Wendy Long, Bob Turner and George Maragos. The winner, Wendy Long, is challenging Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, for a 6-year term.
As an Ulster County Republican Committee member unable to attend the unofficial GOP Convention on May 31, 2012, when I suppose Bob Turner was "unanimously endorsed," I realized that we have a Republican Primary only when getting a mailer from Wendy Long. This is the season for circulating petitions and I mentioned the primary to as many people as I could. It became clear soon that nobody was aware of it; many voters complained that they didn't get a mailer like I did (probably sent to Republican Committee members only, counting on them to spread the word).
This was a Federal Primary Election for which we the taxpayers paid. Why pay for something we don't use? Why don't we use the opportunity to choose the candidate we think is best? Why didn't we vote? I believe the main reason is lack of awareness, lack of information. Very few people knew about the primary, fewer yet knew anything at all about the candidates.
Lately we've been seeing too many one-horse races, unopposed candidates who would get elected even if nobody cares to vote. Why would people bother to vote if their vote does not matter at all? When people are unhappy, they might want to vote out certain elected officials. This works only if the people have a choice.
I feel that the one-candidate "races" create voter apathy, very unhealthy for the social fabric. Any time a voter stays home, no matter the reason, democracy takes a hit.
Let's all stay informed and involved. Let's elect the best candidates in every race. Let's not waste our right to vote.