By Charles Mann, Upstate Action Alliance
Shared in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, 11-04-2021
Congratulations to all the winning candidates in Tuesday’s elections across the county. The City of Spartanburg, with the election of Jerome Rice as Mayor, now has a minority-majority City Council. Rice, Janie Salley, Erica Brown and Ruth Littlejohn now comprise that majority. Also, the City Council has more women than ever before with Salley, Brown, Littlejohn and Meghan Smith. With Rice as Mayor, the City now has its second Black Mayor in its history.
Again, congratulations to all the new and previously elected public servants. With that said, let’s take a closer look at the numbers.
As the founding member of The Upstate Action Alliance I am asking …. "Why did so few citizens participate in our holiest, most scared democratic activity?" The principle of "One Person – One Vote." The principle that that our elders and ancestors died for. The principle of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The principle that people marched for.
As a voting rights organization, we are truly perplexed as to why citizens refuse to exercise this constitutional right and obligation.
While we celebrate the winners of our public discourse, we must also be concerned, gravely concerned, about voter disengagement. This lack of turnout and engagement is allowing a few to determine the fate of the many. In other words, 20,000 voters elected public office holders who will create public policy for over 327,000 residents.
Is this what you want? Is this what our democracy has come to? Have we become so callous, so “I don’t care”, so “my vote does not count”… that we are handing over our future to so few?
Are we better than this? I truly hope so.
I am reminded of a statement from my son. "When people don’t vote, their lives don’t change. When people vote, their lives don’t change. So why should people vote?” Is this what has led our community to a 10% voter turnout? If so, we have a lot of work ahead.
While my organization and I are dismayed at the extremely low voter turnout, we are energized and committed to get more of our citizens willing to take 15 minutes out of their day on Election Day to select their representatives. Our community and our country deserve 15 minutes of your time, once a year, to show up and make a choice.
Too many people have died for our right to vote. It is a dishonor to their lives, their commitment and their dreams for a better tomorrow for us not to show up. And there are so many people trying to make it harder for you to vote. Let me ask you this... If your vote does not count, why are so many people working so hard to take your vote away… to dilute your vote… to minimize your vote? Your vote is important. Your vote matters.
All elections matter.
So, join us to make a 10% voter turnout in our community an aberration. A mistake. Let’s work to make our community, a community that matters. A community that votes.
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The LWVS Blog is authored by members of the League of Women Voters of Spartanburg County with a central editor.