Sad to see dismal voter turnout

It’s been more than a week since Alpena County voters renewed the countywide property tax that supports the Alpena County Library, and we’re still brooding.

Not because of the tax renewal. The small price — just $12.50 a year for the owner of a $100,000 house — is more than worth it for the treasure that is our public library, and we were more than happy with the outcome of the vote.

No, we’re brooding because that tax is paid by every property owner in the county, yet just a fraction of those taxpayers took the time to head to the polls on Aug. 6.

As Steve Schulwitz reported last week, turnout in Alpena County was just 17% of registered voters. That’s less than one-fifth, meaning, essentially, that every one property owner who actually went to the polls got to decide how much four of his or her neighbors have to pay every year without their input.

Such dismal turnout is common in spring and summer elections, especially in odd-numbered years. If it’s not a gubernatorial or presidential contest, most voters simply stay home.

That’s a shame. We don’t know about you, but we don’t want our neighbors — as much as we appreciate them — deciding how much comes out of our pocketbook.

Area municipalities are doing excellent work trying to increase that turnout. One of the biggest ways they’re doing so is by not only making sure voters who want to be are signed up for absentee ballots, but also communicating with those voters close to Election Day. Alpena Township actually had more ballots cast absentee than at polling places.

We hope local governments continue to do such work, but we also hope our neighbors recognize the power of voting and take it upon themselves to head to the polls or vote absentee.

It is your money, after all.



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