There are 90,325 registered voters in Ellis County. That is not the county’s population. That is how many of our residents actually took the time to register to have a voice in our democratic process of selecting our elected officials.
The number again is 90,325.
Yet only 16,159 chose to exercise that right last Tuesday during our primary election. In addition to deciding the nominees for our next governor, attorney general and several key state offices, locally, ballots were cast to determine who would serve as Ellis County Judge, our next representative in the Texas Legislature, two county commissioner races, and several other important races.
Yet when the polls closed at 7 p.m. Tuesday, only 17.89 percent of the county’s registered voters had participated in the process — meaning more than 81 percent of those who could have let their voices and their votes be heard, chose to remain silent. Less than 20 percent made the decision of who gets to represent our needs, our interests — and our fate.
What is sad is how easy it is to vote in Texas.
There are two weeks of early voting — with convenient polling locations throughout the county. Folks could even vote on Sunday. You could vote by mail. Or, you could have showed up at the polls on Election Day, with every polling location open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Yet four out of five registered voters chose to opt out of the decision-making process.
The sad, sad reality is the overwhelming majority — at least in Ellis County — doesn’t vote.
Why then, do those who made the decision to remain silent, feel so entitled to criticize anything about the government — local, state or federal — or those who ultimately made the decision for them on who gets to do the work we are often so critical of?
Perhaps the four out of five voters who chose to remain silent in the last election prefer to let others speak for them.
What will it take to turn that silence into action by participating our democratic process? We only hope that happens while we still have a democracy — and the right to vote.