The Times West Virginian


May 18, 2014

Voters: Take advantage of right to have your voice heard

The right of the American people to have a voice in their government — from the local level to Washington, D.C. — has always been one of the country’s guiding principles.

We just wish that more citizens would take advantage of the opportunity when elections roll around.

We will admit that interest in politics is probably at a near-record low because it so often seems, particulary on the national level, there’s more gridlock than accomplishment.

Now let’s look at some figures from last week’s primary election. Only 19.7 percent of the voters turned out statewide. That certainly isn’t a very high percentage. The percentage of voters in Marion County was just about that as well.

“It’s not only disconcerting,” said Robert Rupp, a West Virginia Wesleyan College political science professor. “It almost makes the system dysfunctional when you have such a low turnout.”

This year’s West Virginia primary election turnout was a 4 percent drop from a similar 2010 midterm primary.

West Virginia, The Associated Press reported, keeps trending downward in voter participation for non-presidential-year primaries, according to unofficial totals released Thursday by Secretary of State Natalie Tennant. Midterm primary turnout has been cut in half since 1994, when 39 percent voted.

Unofficial results show 241,020 ballots were cast in West Virginia this election. About 46,800 people voted early and absentee combined, which Tennant’s office called a midterm primary record, but the slide in total votes cast is significant.

One factor to consider is that there were few significant matchups in the primary.

Marion County had an interesting board of education race, and a contest for a Marion County Commission seat still isn’t decided. But these lacked that “marquee” description that helps to bring people to the polls. Many races were unopposed.

A high-profile U.S. Senate race to replace retiring longtime Sen. Jay Rockefeller featured primaries for Democrat Tennant and GOP Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, but they were against little-known opponents.

In the primaries for the state’s three congressional seats, only the Republican battle for the 2nd Congressional District was competitive. Alex Mooney, former Maryland GOP chairman, topped a field of seven vying for the seat Capito will vacate to run for Senate.

Democrats hold a six-seat edge in the House of Delegates in Charleston, so control over that body should spark plenty of interest in November. Fewer than half of the 67 House of Delegates districts, though, featured any primary challenge.

Only four of 17 state Senate seats on the ballot included primary contests — two Democratic, two Republican.

The sad news is that only 241,020 votes were cast in the state primary election compared to 1,219,580 voters who are registered.

Less than six months from now — with the Capito-Tennant Senate matchup, three races for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives that appear to be competitive and control of the Legislature in Charleston at stake — we see much more interest in the general election.

We trust that will lead to a significant jump in people heading to the polls.

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  • Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives

    It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
    We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.

    July 24, 2014

  • Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely

    The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
    It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
    It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.

    July 23, 2014

  • Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer

    July 22, 2014

  • Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life

    Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
    And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.

    July 20, 2014

  • COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?

    Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
    I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.

    July 20, 2014

  • Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions

    This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
    The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    July 18, 2014

  • Soup Opera in need of your support again this time of year

    It’s happening again.
    It usually always happens about this time each year. Sometimes it’s a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
    But Soup Opera executive director Shelia Tennant knows it will come — usually in July. And she’s never that surprised about it.

    July 17, 2014

  • County honors men who gave all in helping their community

    The next time you’re driving in the Rivesville area, you might notice new signs on two of the area’s bridges.
    Those signs, which bear the names of Alex Angelino and Denzil O. Lockard, were unveiled Saturday in honor of the men whose names they display, two men who died while serving their communities.
    The bridge on U.S. 19 over Paw Paw Creek was named to honor Lockard, while the bridge on U.S. 19 over Pharaoh Run Creek was named to honor Angelino. Lockard, a former Rivesville police chief, died in 1958 at the age of 48 while directing traffic. Angelino, a Rivesville firefighter, died at the age of 43 of a heart attack while fighting a fire in 1966.

    July 16, 2014

  • State must learn to keep costs down and perform more efficiently on less

    The West Virginia state government began its budget year last Tuesday with a small surplus of $40 million — less than 1 percent of its annual tax revenues — thanks only to dipping into its savings.
    Let’s not do that again.

    July 15, 2014

  • Long-range vision with transportation has been made to be thing of proud past

    Last week’s closure of Fairmont’s Fourth Street Bridge is a symbol of a problem that must be fixed.
    The United States should be proud of the vision its leaders once displayed to address the country’s transportation needs.
    Back in 1954, for example, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced his goal of an interstate highway system — something that transformed the country.

    July 13, 2014

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