PAINTER: Your vote does make a difference in local elections

Can your vote make a difference? Yes it can.
Oct 30, 2013

On Tuesday, Nov. 5, voters in the Spring Lake school district, and cities of Ferrysburg and Grand Haven will be deciding the outcome of three important ballot issues.

Spring Lake voters are being asked to consider a $59.8 million bond program to fund a new elementary school, make improvements to the middle and intermediate schools, purchase new buses, build a new bus garage, and build new athletic facilities at the present high school.

Ferrysburg voters are being asked to approve 0.5 mill to expand the city’s bicycle program. The proposed routes are on North Shore Road from the Fire Barn to North Beach Park and on 168th Avenue from West Spring Lake Road to Van Wagoner Road.

Grand Haven voters will decide the fate of a $7.1 million bond proposal to fund improvements to the city’s public utilities and roads.

City voters also are being asked to choose two City Council candidates and one Board of Light & Power candidate. Council incumbents Robert Monteza and Dennis Scott face a challenge from Henry Reyenga. BLP incumbent James Vander Molen is being challenged by Dan Borchers.

These are important election issues. I’m not going to tell you how to vote. I’m just asking you to please vote.

If you think your vote won’t make a difference, think again. I remember several school board and millage elections in which the outcomes were determined by the slimmest of margins.

Yes, your vote does count. Even in presidential elections, the outcome can be determined by just a few votes. Remember Florida?

It is also important to do your homework before going to the polls. I know that Spring Lake and Grand Haven officials have conducted public meetings so that voters could have their questions answered. And I’m sure that school and city officials won’t mind answering your last-minute questions. Be informed.

Local elections notoriously draw low voter turnouts. Michigan lawmakers, in fact, voted in 2005 to change the Michigan law that allows local governments to conduct elections to the November general election date in hopes of generating larger voter turnouts.

According to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, school elections generally have an 8-20 percent turnout rate.

While the election on Tuesday offers no important presidential or gubernatorial races, the local issues offer area voters a chance to have a say in the future of their communities.

Ottawa County historically has strong voter turnouts in presidential elections. In the 1960 election between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, 72.7 percent of the county’s registered voters cast ballots. In the last presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, 63 percent of registered voters turned out.

There is no reason why there can’t be an above-average voter turnout for Tuesday’s local elections.

Voting is a privilege that too many of us take for granted. Men and women have died in wars to preserve our freedoms, which include the right to vote.

I’ll admit that there have been some local elections that didn’t stimulate me enough to get out and vote.

This Tuesday’s elections, however, provide plenty of reasons to cast your vote. We voters are going to determine issues that will impact our communities for many years.

There are many countries that would love the opportunity to decide the fate of major issues in their communities. They are not always given that opportunity.

So, please vote on Tuesday, Nov. 5. It is very important to our democratic system of government.

— By Len Painter, editor emeritus

Comments

zwesterhouse

It makes a huge difference. When a friend of mine ran for office he had average people in mind. But he didn't even get 1,000 votes. The people who are the most oppressed by these temp services, low wages are just too lazy to even fill out an absentee ballot. He went through all the trailer parks to get votes. Lots of griping, complaining and belly aching by the residents all over. But they didn't go to the poles. And the millionaire got in office. That segment of society votes. Average people don't. They just complain

wendyswenson

Right On Len! Don't complain if you don't vote!

Alberta

Well Len,

It's nice of you to let us know about voting but why aren't there any sample ballots on the Tribune website or in the print version so we can read the legalese before getting to the polls?

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