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Now granted, there were a lot of things to attend to on Vermont’s Primary Election Day, August 28, 2012, given that it was the anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene which flooded Vermont from the south to the north and east to the west.
Our minds and our energy were focused on remembering and on recovering and also on New Orleans where Hurricane Isaac was slated to make landfall and ultimately did and flooded that city again, seven years after Hurricane Katrina.
Once you’ve seen wide-scale flooding and destruction you can never hear about it happening to others without empathy, anxiety and concern. That’s only understandable and it’s only human.
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin was in The Valley towns on primary election day and that also took up our time and energy. And we rang the bells in our churches and town halls at 7 p.m. on Election Day night and we gathered with friends and community members to remember.
Those are all valid things that took up our time on Vermont’s primary Election Day. But really? Ten percent voter turnout throughout The Valley? In some towns it was as low as 5 percent.
Is that any way to treat our democratic process? It deserves better and we can do better. There were not a lot of contested races this year, other than the Democratic primary race for attorney general. But that’s an important post in our state and it’s an important race so it matters which democratic candidate is in the race.
And even when there are not a lot of sexy and exciting contested races, we need to vote. We need to make the time to understand who is running and what they stand for and then go to the polls and cast ballots.
None of our polling places are inconveniently located (except for Moretown’s right now as the town figures out what to do about its town offices post-Irene) and there are no long lines to wait through and chances are good you’ll be greeted with a smile and by name by election workers.
This is not an onerous task. It’s a responsibility that comes with citizenship.
We can do better.