Non-voters squander essential right |

Non-voters squander essential right

Don Rogers

The Vail Recreation District election mustered what’s considered a fat turnout, at 18 percent of those eligible actually making the effort to fill out absentee ballots or hoist themselves to the municipal center for the five minutes or so it took to cast ballots.

Minturn and Red Cliff drew a county-best 25 percent on the weighty question of whether to make the towns much safer by joining the consolidated mid-valley fire district.

But the standard turnout was single-digit participation on questions that will cost the taxpayers millions of dollars and settle who among the candidates will make the decisions on how to spend the loot.

Consider that among the couple of thousand eligible voters in the Edwards area for the downvalley recreation district property tax increase, a whole 101 people actually voted.

Didn’t know about it? You must not have read the paper for the past month.

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Readership surveys consistently show that the Vail Daily is picked up and read by about 90 percent of the people in the valley.

Quibble with our depth, if you like, but how do so few bother to weigh in on questions that matter so much to their daily lives?

Sorry, we’re being moralistic for a moment, wondering about the state of American-style democracy in an environment where almost no one participates.

In a word, it’s pathetic.

More people play softball than vote. Starbucks, evil empire that it is painted by the provincials, attracts lines far longer than at the polls.

Nearly everyone eschewed our most valuable right, and easiest of civic responsibilities, this time around.

Of course, this is freedom, too. The freedom to just not give a damn. Hardly patriotic, hardly the behavior our soldiers have fought for in conflicts large and small, but nonetheless among our inalienable rights. Not very smart, either. Imagine, Afghan-istan would have higher turnouts for elections today than we did Tuesday.

So, if you are among the nine out of 10 local property owners who skipped these elections, don’t complain about your tax bill. You are directly responsible for it, by failing to vote, along with the other eligible voters who couldn’t be bothered.

And don’t complain about your representation on these recreation, fire and metro boards, either. By default, you got better than you deserve.

Better, because every candidate who put himself or herself out there for election performed an act of civic responsibility whatever their platform or stance on the issues their board will handle.

In this case, the elite are not the wealthy, the landed, the gentry.

The elite decision-makers Tuesday were the rare people who exerted the effort it took to break from the routine of their day for five whole minutes to vote, and we hope an hour or two in the past month to consider the issues and candidates they were voting on.

The rest of you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. If Sept. 11 meant anything, it should have driven home the all too rare privilege you squandered.

If you feel offended, good. Take a hard look at yourself, and get yourself to the polls next time around.


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