Voter turnout important in all elections

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 17, 2004

I get lots of e-mail each day. Some of it is good, much of it istrash and lots of it is somewhere in between. One I receivedrecently said was IMPORTANT! Most such proclamations result in aquick click of the delete button. This one, for some reason, Idecided to read.

The e-mail asked a single question, “Can you imagine working fora company that has a little more than 500 employees and has thefollowing statistics?” It goes on to list 10 areas ofless-than-desirable human behavior, along with a numberrepresenting how many employees of the company are guilty of eachindiscretion.

Eighty-four of the employees have been arrested for drunkdriving, 29 have been accused of spousal abuse, 14 have beenarrested for drug-related charges, and so on down the list. At theend, it asks if you can guess which organization the grouprepresents. The answer — the United States Congress.

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The e-mail further states that this is the “same group of idiotsthat crank out hundreds of new laws each year designed to keep therest of us in line.” A request is made at the end for the reader topass the e-mail on to friends. That is, of course, how I came toreceive my copy — along with the 40 others who happened to be onsomeone’s e-mail list.

A little math shows that if these 40 send to 40 more and so on,it won’t take long for some 2.5 million folks to receive themessage. The Internet is a powerful vehicle.

While the message was sent in pointed humor, I responded to the40 on the list with my own pointed humor. I added the followingsimple, 10-word observation: “And guess who is responsible forputting them there? Voters!”

These days, politicos think a 35 percent voter turnout is astrong turnout. A 45 percent turnout is outstanding, and a 50percent will set off bells and whistles.

In Tuesday’s special election for mayor and city clerk, thereare 7,829 registered voters in Brookhaven. I would be willing tobet that less than 1,500 of those folks vote — less than 20percent!

I am not trying to draw a correlation between the indiscretionsmentioned in the e-mail and our local candidates, because there isnone. But the correlation that should be drawn is voter apathy andthe result of that apathy.

The lead story on today’s front page is a compilation of answersto questions asked of each of the candidates for both races. Ithink readers will find the answers interesting, for they give aninsight into the thought process of each of the candidates.

Frankly, I was surprised at the diversity of opinion in a coupleof the answers, and I think voters will be also.

The mayor and city clerk of Brookhaven are two very importantpositions — the economic future of Brookhaven and Lincoln Countyrests squarely in their hands. With the tight financial times aheadand annexation in full swing, the next year is going to be amonumental challenge, to say the least.

Hopefully more than 20 percent will make it to the polls Tuesdayto pick these new leaders.

Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, Miss.39602, or send e-mail to