The Meridian Star
On Tuesday, 10,282 Meridian residents cast ballots in the general election to choose the mayor and members of the city council.
That number represents less than 47 percent of the city's 22,138 registered voters.
Talk to just about any election official in the country and they will tell you that is a great turnout for a municipal election. It is not uncommon in some cities to see voter turnout in the single digits or teens during off-year local elections in which city, school or county officials are running for office.
And while we applaud those who voted, we wish more had done so. Decisions made by local elected officials have much more impact on people's everyday lives than do the decisions of officials holding state or national offices. Although voter turnout can also be dismal for mid-term congressional elections — particularly primaries — more people tend to exercise their right to vote when state or national seats are up for grabs.
It would seem that people would be more engaged during elections to choose those who make local decisions on issues such as property taxes, road work and education, to name but a few.
And while we would like to have seen a greater turnout, we would be remiss in not recognizing the efforts of those who did participate.
On June 2, 2009, during the last city of Meridian general election, 9,523 people showed up at the polls. Some 759 more people voted Tuesday. And while that is not a great number, it is good to see an increase, no matter how small.
And there was much to applaud during this election.
Candidates for both the mayoral race and city council seats were engaged, taking part in forums, speaking before local civic organizations and visiting with residents, sometimes knocking on doors to do so.
Residents volunteered to serve on election campaigns and pre-election media coverage — radio, television and print — was extensive.
And residents were talking about the issues and candidate qualifications in barber shops, laundry mats and at social functions.
We've all seen elections where the candidates were less than enthusiastic and the residents were apathetic about the issues, the candidates and the outcome at the polls.
Thankfully, that wasn't the case during this election and for that, we salute you.