“Those who stay away from the election think that one vote will do no good: ‘Tis but one step more to think one vote will do no harm.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
Today, some area Republican and Conservative voters will go to the local polls to cast their ballots in a primary election for state and local offices.
We say “some” because turnout for primary elections is typically low. And it might be more accurate to say “a few,” because this year’s primary has a few strikes against it.
For one thing, a legal tussle led to the state splitting the congressional primary from the state contest for the first time this year. So voters who already went to the polls in June are being asked to come back — an unaccustomed activity, to say the least.
For another, the primary was moved to Thursday from its usual spot on the Tuesday after the second Monday in September, so as not to conflict with the 9/11 anniversary.
And finally — possibly most significantly — this is the first time voters are being faced with the new districts that will take effect in 2013.
For some voters, nothing will have changed. A large portion of Sen. James Seward’s local constituency will still be represented by him — or whoever wins today’s vote. (James Blake is challenging Seward; the winner will go up against Democrat Howard Leib of Dryden.)
But voters in 11 Delaware County towns are now also being asked to weigh in on Seward’s seat for the first time. We wonder how many of those voters realize that.
Even worse is the 101st Assembly district, which was cobbled together from several districts and snakes through the region from Oneida County to Orange County, picking up nine local towns along the way.
Claudia Tenney of New Hartford and Brian Maher of Walden are competing today for the Republican nomination to go up against Democrat Daniel Carter of Herkimer County in the November general election.
Not exactly household names around here.
So when we say that all informed and able voters should take advantage of their right to vote today, it may seem like a useless exhortation. But we believe it isn’t.
At the very most, local voters will have a handful of candidates to evaluate at the polls today. And with polls open from noon to 9 p.m., it’s not unreasonable to think that any prospective voter could find the time to go online and learn a little bit about each candidate.
It’s your civic duty, and it’s an exercise in democracy.
And besides, it’s not like there will be a line.