As with many elections, this week’s midterms fueled reams of letters to the editor from our readership.
For this, we are thankful. Providing a forum for the exchange of ideas is a key role for this newspaper.
Unfortunately, some letters did not get published. We have a long-term policy publishing the last election-related letters a week before the big day. This allows for a cooling-off period before many visit the polls.
Some recent letters from both sides of the political aisle were heated. However, a common theme in many was the importance of voting.
Consider the following excerpts from our readers:
— “Exercise your right on Nov. 6. Vote.”
— “Do not let lies and fear-mongering about ‘the other’ keep you from having your voice heard. ... Your vote is power. Use it.”
— “As I cast my vote for U.S. senator, I’ll be thinking about who’s been in my corner, fighting for the community I love.”
— “The people who do vote have some say in who wins. People who don’t can’t complain.”
— “I will vote because that’s a hard-won right.”
— “Vote for common sense and decency Nov. 6.”
The ease, or lack thereof, of voting warrants debate. As USA Today opinion columnist Tom Krattenmaker wrote:
“I know it can be a pain. Byzantine registration rules, highly suspect voter-roll purges, long lines at poorly resourced polling places, the peculiar tradition of elections on Tuesdays when most of us have to work — these and other factors seem designed to discourage many from exercising the right and responsibility to vote.”
But that doesn’t detract from the importance of making the effort.
“Your vote matters so much that even the prospect of it influences affairs in Washington, your state capitol and your municipal government,” Krattenmaker wrote. “When office-holders can be confident that voters won’t hold them accountable, they do what comes naturally: the things that the most powerful and moneyed interests want them to do.”
According to the organization FairVote, in recent elections about 60 percent of eligible voters turn out for presidential election years and about 40 percent for midterm elections. Wisconsin had 69.3 percent turnout in the 2016 elections, fifth-highest in the nation.
Locally, according to Eau Claire County Clerk Janet Loomis, average turnout during the past three gubernatorial elections was 51 percent. She’s expecting about 55 percent this week.
Here’s hoping we can increase that percentage. After all, it was Thomas Jefferson who once said, “We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
— Liam Marlaire, assistant editor