Voter turnout across the board and across the state has been dismal over the past few elections, to say the least.
Sub-20 percent turnouts have become the norm for many elections, with fewer than a quarter of the populace turning out to decide who will serve in public office. That is especially true of odd-year elections in Kentucky, where much of Floyd County has more often than not opted to stay home and let someone else make their decisions.
In 2015, less than 27 percent of registered Floyd County voters came to the polls, and in 2011, less than 23 percent turned out.
That’s why we’re glad to see that it appears, this year, that more than 38 percent of voters turned out. While that number still leaves much to be desired, it’s a good sign that the state of democracy in Floyd is likely more healthy than those previous elections would lead one to believe.
Even on even-year elections, such as those in which our county leaders and president are chosen, there’s work to be done. According to Kentucky Board of Elections data, less than 45 percent of the electorate turned out for the general election which decided our county leadership. In 2016, just a bit more than 55 percent turned out in the midst of one of the most hotly-contested presidential elections in recent memory.
To be clear, these statistics tend to put Floyd County ahead of many surrounding communities in terms of political involvement by the electorate.
At the same time, however, we would prefer that this not be the peak, but the foundation on which we build a stronger voter turnout.
The people we elect to serve in these offices have a great deal of impact on our lives. When only a small number of people are making those choices, that undercuts the basic foundation of our system of government.
We applaud those who have stepped up to their responsibility and encourage those who haven’t yet taken that step to do so.
It’s vital. It’s important. And it’s our duty.