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Do your civic duty

Marion City Council elections are Tuesday, and they are heavily contested this year with five candidates for two positions. I hope the amount of competition is enough to result in voter turnout above 50 percent, but I’ll just have to wait to see about that.

The right to vote is something that one group after another has had to fight hard for over the history of the U.S., yet so many people treat voting as a burden. Getting half of registered voters — without even including people eligible to vote who never register — to show up is considered a success now.

Time is precious, I get that. Voting really doesn’t take that much time, though. Maybe it does in big cities with too few poll sites, but I’ve never had to wait in line to vote.

With the exception of controversial local elections, state and federal elections attract a higher percentage of elections than local elections. I can see why; those elections get a lot more attention and candidates start running years in advance in some cases.

There are good reasons to vote in local elections. For one, local government, whether city or county, has a greater effect on everyday life. Congress doesn’t decide which streets to repave or whether to rezone the property next door to your house for heavy industrial use.

Furthermore, a single person can have a bigger say in local government. Congress has 535 members between the House of Representatives and the Senate. Marion City Council has five members, including the mayor.

Along the same lines, a single vote in the local election can change the result. In 2010, Dick Varenhorst was four votes ahead of Jerry Kline for a city council position with seven provisional ballots left to be counted. The provisional ballots catapulted Kline into the final open council position by a three-vote margin.

So remember, your vote can make a difference, especially in a local election. Now get out and vote on Tuesday.

— Adam Stewart

Last modified March 28, 2012

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