Elections are the main way that the citizens of our community get a chance to clearly impose their wishes on government, yet so often the percentage of people who show up at the polls is incredibly anemic. Less than 10 percent of voters in Putnam County showed up at the September 13 primary. That is a shame, because in most races the primary winner has the inside track on a November victory, either running unopposed or against a lesser known opponent.
It’s imperative not to get left out of the process, and this is one area where the influence of the Chamber of Commerce is rather limited. We can share information and hold debates, but it’s up to the public to get out and register their votes. We may all lead busy lives, but we can’t complain that politicians aren’t doing the will of the people if we don’t get out and tell them what our wishes are.
Perhaps the malaise can be attributed to factors such as negative campaigning and other drama that takes please each election season. Voters surely get turned off to all the inflammatory rhetoric. Perhaps the Board of Elections can run public service announcements to remind voters of the importance of speaking their mind at the ballot box. It seems odd that we should need such reminders, but anything that helps raise the percentage of ballots cast is a good thing.
The issues that we as Putnam residents and business owners face are very significant. Decisions are being made at local, statewide and federal levels that will make a difference in the cost of running our business. Government leaders decide the taxes we pay on our homes, on purchases, the regulations we must adhere to, and the fees for obtaining permits, etc. It is vital that our voices be heard during this election season.
-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce