It’s time to Break It Down!
Yesterday was National Voter Registration Day in the United States. It is observed each year on the fourth Tuesday in September. There are 35 days left until the 2021 Municipal Elections in North Carolina, and unregistered voters have only a few days left to register in order to qualify to vote on November 2nd. The occasion is a nonpartisan endeavor intended to emphasize bringing attention to our democracy, exercising our franchise, and of course, engaging in executing our civic duty.
In 2016, 100 million people didn’t vote; the number was 80 million in 2020, despite record voter turnout. And those were presidential election years. You can expect the percentage of registered voters participating in NC Municipal election this November will be dismally low. In 2019, 3,073,903 North Carolinians were registered to vote. Of that number, 500, 640, or 16%, actually voted. Two years earlier, in 2017, 600,443 of 3,569,497 registered voters went to the polls: 17%. Municipal voting in NC will feature an additional complication this year. On June 28th, NC legislators enacted a bill (Session Law 2021-56) delaying elections until 2022 in the 35 cities and towns shown below:
Town of Ahoskie (Hertford County)
Town of Cary (Chatham & Wake Counties)
City of Charlotte (Mecklenburg County)
City of Clinton (Sampson County)
Town of Edenton (Chowan County)
City of Elizabeth City (Camden & Pasquotank Counties)
Town of Enfield (Halifax County)
Town of Erwin (Harnett County)
City of Fayetteville (Cumberland County)
City of Greensboro (Guilford County)
City of Greenville (Pitt County)
City of Henderson (Vance County)
City of Hickory (Burke & Catawba Counties)
City of Jacksonville (Onslow County)
City of Kings Mountain (Cleveland & Gaston Counties)
City of Laurinburg (Scotland County)
City of Lexington (Davidson County)
Town of Long View (Burke & Catawba Counties)
City of Lumberton (Robeson County)
Town of Mooresville (Iredell County)
Town of Mount Olive (Duplin & Wayne Counties)
City of New Bern (Craven County)
Town of Plymouth (Washington County)
Town of Princeville (Edgecombe County)
City of Raleigh (Wake & Durham Counties)
City of Roanoke Rapids (Halifax County)
City of Rocky Mount (Edgecombe & Nash Counties)
City of Sanford (Lee County)
Town of Siler City (Chatham)
Town of Smithfield (Johnston County)
Town of St. Pauls (Robeson)
City of Statesville (Iredell County)
Town of Tarboro (Edgecombe County
City of Whiteville (Columbus County)
City of Wilson (Wilson County)
Under this law, terms of mayors and council members in the jurisdictions above will be extended until their successors are elected in 2022. The pertinent caveat is the law permits a municipality to keep any regularly scheduled at-large elections in 2021, if it notified the county board of elections of this decision by July 19, 2021.
I remember entertaining conversations with many people who opted out in 2016. They all had reasons. Some contended their vote would not count, others argued the candidates were same/it did not matter which one would win, still others didn’t go to the polls because of one of many voter suppression tactics, and last, for the purpose of this post, far too many individuals succumbed to apathy. In reflecting on the aforementioned rationales, I am reminded of an old witticism, repackaged to apply to voting:
Upon learning of a new acquaintance’s voting status, Mr. Smith inquired, “Mr. Jones, why did you not vote? Was it due to ignorance, or because of apathy?”
After giving the query his full consideration, Mr. Jones replied, “Mr. Smith, I don’t know, and I don’t care.”
The reality is voting is central to making our government work effectively. I once had the honor and privilege to oversee a local election. It was a huge responsibility, and an incredibly important event in our community. There are always lots of moving parts, bracing tension, and a whirlwind of frenzy surrounding elections. Yes, there is even more of all of that during a quadrennial that features the Presidential Election, but every single election is critical. Municipal elections focus on public servants such as mayors and council members; the officials who are closest to the community. Those men and women oversee an array of issues, such as, how your streets are maintained, when and where traffic lights are added and what your next water bill will look like.
Let me be clear. This post is not about any individual elected official; nor is it about Democrats or Republicans…or any other political party. It is about you doing your part to ensure that our government, on all levels, works the way it is supposed to, and reflects the will of “We The People There are hundreds of new election laws across dozens of states, many of them specifically crafted to make it more difficult to vote.” To that end, I urge you to do your duty. Register & Vote: The Foundation of Our Democracy Redux ’21!
I’m done; holla back!
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