A kick in the pants to the three out of every four eligible voters who failed to return their ballots to be counted in Tuesday’s election.
In Umatilla County, only 26.3 percent of those registered participated in the election. In Morrow County the return rate was even lower — 23.8 percent.
We understand why fewer people would return ballots in May than in a major fall election. And depending on your district, this year’s ballots were particularly devoid of important, contested races. If you live outside of Hermiston’s school district or Pendleton’s city limits, for instance, you had little to vote for or against — and the races you had the opportunity to chime in on were limited to a data district, a cemetery board or a water control district. Not the kind of political issues that people are champing at the bit to spend a stamp on.
But voting does matter, and Oregon makes it so easy on us, so we should get in the habit of returning each and every ballot to have our views counted.
In Pendleton, the returns were enough to pass a $10 million fire bond. Perhaps the depressed vote tally was even helpful — it allows those heavily motivated, whether for or against an issue, to have more impact. That same phenomenon was bad news for the Hermiston School District, however, which saw its $104 million schools bond defeated.
We respect the will of the voters, whoever they choose and what they decide. But the higher the voter turnout, the closer the result is to true democratic expression. That’s a goal to aspire to.
A tip of the hat to the beginning of “construction season” in Eastern Oregon.
Yes, you read that right, and we had to grit our teeth while writing it.
But all the barrels and cones and “Slow down” and “Construction zone” signs you’re seeing do mean progress — eventually.
In Pendleton, major work is getting done on Westgate, and big projects are starting up on the ramps to and from Interstate 84 in the city.
Even more heavy construction is underway in Hermiston, much of it centered in the vicinity of where highways 395 and 730 merge. Delays will be part of the daily commute through the area in the short-term future, according to Oregon Department of Transportation.
But the delays will give way to faster, smoother, safer traveling once the construction is complete and finished. Let’s begin counting down the days.