Is it important to vote? You bet it is!

If you don’t vote, you are allowing a small percentage of registered voters to choose your elected leaders. I could not agree more with the Sunday, November 10th Times opinion editorial headlining that region citizen collectively failed in their civic duty to vote in the Municipal General Election on November 5, 2019. For all of you who came out to vote; THANK YOU

From the editorial, Lake County saw the lowest Region voter turnout, with only 15.7% of registered voters casting a ballot either on election day, by voting early, or by absentee ballot. In Merrillville’s Ward 5 election, only 661 voters (11.9%) cast a ballot out of the 5,558 registered to vote.

Granted, this particular municipal election only had one contested race which was for the Town Council seat. The Town Judge and Clerk-Treasurer candidates were unopposed and didn’t even appear on the ballots or voting machines. My question is for those who didn’t vote. What is needed for you to vote in not just local, but any elections? Of all elections, the local municipal elections are all positions that can impact you the most, with local taxes, services, etc. all on the line. So, what are we, as candidates not doing that, we should do to get your interest?

One of my goals while serving you is going to be getting residents involved in our community. Providing programs that bring us together will be a main focus. I will also be suggesting to my fellow council members the need for additional special committees to address specific issues in town. This will require residents to volunteer for boards, commissions and committees, whatever we call them, to offer local leaders’ feedback on what you, our community, would like to see in our town.

The editorial showed that only 47,517 of the 303,168 registered voters participated. It did not address some of the reason why the turnout was so low. Some of my observations, and not mentioned in the editorial was that many offices were uncontested. This in itself, doesn’t create excitement in the electorate. It means that politicians don’t need to canvass neighborhoods, or send information about themselves, or even market that there is an election coming up. After all, they are certified winners and no longer even require one vote in the general election to be declared the winner.

I remember long ago, political parties always tried to “fill the ballot” with opposition to avoid uncontested seats. Perhaps that needs to be done again. Might sound odd since I am asking for opposition as a politician, but if we really want to have a valid process, this needs to be done.

From the editorial, ‘It’s time for all of us to take responsibility for the direction of our communities, state and nation and vow to make time to exercise our most important right.’ But isn’t it also a responsibility for local political parties to make an effort to generate excitement in elections to entice voters to even notice, care, and ultimately take time to vote

Between early voting, absentee ballots, and a 12-hour long polling day it should be easy to vote. Let’s look closer as to the reason why the turnouts are so low and then do something about it. If you are not registered to vote, you may use the link below to get the national form to register.

-Rick Bella

Click the button link below for the register to vote info and online application.

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