Voting directly impacts the health of the American political system and the people who participate in it. Voting is essential to democracy.
I am happy to report Republican Clay County Election Board Director Patty Lamb estimates more than 70% of registered county voters will vote in the November election. However, this high a turnout is more of an exception than rule and is something we should not take for granted.
While Clay County has seen more than 65% voter turnout in this and the last presidential election, turnout in other elections throughout the year, sadly, has been low. According to election results from the Clay County Election Board, only 12% of registered voters cast their ballots in the April municipal election and 27% in the August primary.
When this low of a turnout occurs, it means a minority of the population gets to make decisions for the whole. This can have negative societal consequences.
For nearly 30 years, voters have been disproportionately of higher income, older or more partisan in their interests, according to massvote.org, an American organization that works to promote a culture of active political participation. Parallel to these voter participation gaps are widening gaps in wealth and seemingly reduced opportunities for youth.
This is why we need to register and vote. Voting matters because representation matters.
We are living through an unprecedented year of events that have put the American public through the wringer. The coronavirus pandemic has stolen hundreds of thousands of American lives, thousands of which came from our state. We’ve seen our highest court in the land, the U.S. Supreme Court, disrupted again; the economy stalled due to the pandemic; and a social justice reawakening that led to protests around the nation including here in Clay County.
Public health, the economy, social justice and equality are all reasons to go to the polls or mail in your ballot.
This November, voters have the power to impact government, not just at the federal level, but at state and county levels as well. Missouri voters will have the power to decide who represents them as governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general and U.S. representative. Locally, Clay County voters will decide a state senate and eight state representative races along with who will make up two-thirds of the county commission and who will be sheriff, assessor and public administrator. County voters also will decide whether they want to change the entire system of local government by voting on the proposed constitution.
No matter which side of the political spectrum you fall, if you want your ideologies represented, you have to vote.