This isn’t the first time controversial candidates have run for president of the United States. This isn’t the first time Newton County residents wanted changes made to their board of commissioners.
But yet this time it feels different.
Traveling past the sites for early voting, lines have poured out the doors for two weeks.
This year’s election has certainly solicited apathy and fervor from voters — sometimes both from the same voter. Looking at recent elections in Newton County, this might be a good thing.
Our primary election received the lowest voter turnout in recent history with 22,149 Newton County residents casting a vote in March. That was the election that set up our decision this Tuesday. Hillary Clinton was picked in that election.
Donald Trump was picked in that election. Aaron Varner was picked in that election. Marcello Banes was picked after a run-off from that election.
The choices we make Tuesday were determined with just 43.18 percent of registered Newton County voters showed up at the polls.
Now, with some complaining about the candidates they have to choose from, we are not only on the path to far surpass those voting numbers.
After two weeks of early voting, 22,051 have cast their vote in person and 1,577 mail-in ballots have been received at the Newton County Board of Elections.
That means 40.6 percent of active Newton County voters have done so.
Despite the apathy for the candidates who we have to choose from to run our country and our county, our local political environment is more vocal, robust, and heated than ever.
If you waited in one of those lines, you were likely subject to a lot of discussion from fellow line-waiters about local and national politics.
You were probably subject to that discussion at your church lunches, PTO meetings, and office water cooler too.
Apathy looks different in our community.
It is not apathy to vote. It is apathy about our elected officials and our trust in government.
Voter apathy may exist for some candidacies, races, or referendums, but everyone in that line was passionate about something.
We say grab that passion. If you are passionate about a local candidate, stay with it. If your candidate wins, continue to be involved in local government by attending meetings, volunteering to serve, working with others for the common vision you share. If your candidate loses, continue to be involved in the local work he or she does in order to continue to serve this community, or get involved in local government.
This year has brought out a lot of voters with a desire to have their voices heard. That needs to be felt at the polls every year, Newton County.
Just look at fans of the Chicago Cubs. They haven’t seen a champion — someone to be proud of — in 108 years.
Yet when the final out came early Thursday morning, passion erupted. It felt like the Southside of Chicago had changed forever.
That can happen nationally and it started two weeks ago in Newton County with voters so eager to cast their ballot they couldn’t wait for Nov. 8.
The difference is being decided in our county, our state and our country … now.
Whether disdain or pride is the driving force, let’s continue the positive push in voting.
Tuesday could see great voting numbers in Newton County. And with a great number of people expressing their right to vote, comes representation for the people, elected by the people.
That is something not to be apathetic for but rather be proud of.