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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  • Prevention must remain focus when dealing with cruel black lung disease

    “Preventable, but not curable.”
    That’s how Joe Main, assistant secretary of labor for Mine Safety and Health, describes black lung disease.
    He could also use the word “deadly.”
    According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, black lung has killed more than 76,000 miners since 1968.

    August 1, 2014

  • If something seems too good to be true, then assume that it is

    Scam. noun. A confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit; swindle.
    This is a word that Marion Countians have heard a lot about in the past few years. And the problem appears to be one that is getting worse every day.

    July 31, 2014

  • State must convince parents, schools about benefits of Common Core

    It’s always nice to have a little bit of background information before diving into something new.
    So we have to agree with West Virginia Board of Education president Gayle Manchin when she says the state should have done a better job of explaining Common Core standards when they were first introduced.
    Those standards, part of a national educational initiative that sets learning goals designed to prepare students in kindergarten through 12th grade for college and career, will be fully implemented in every West Virginia school district next month.

    July 30, 2014

  • Time is now for Tomblin to support King Coal Highway

    U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is asking Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to add the King Coal Highway project to West Virginia’s six-year highway improvement plan. It is a logical request, and one that Tomblin should act promptly on.

    July 29, 2014

  • United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project

    The high-technology sector is obviously vital to the economy of North Central West Virginia.
    That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.

    July 27, 2014

  • COLUMN: Calling all readers: Be heard

    I love to talk to readers.
    I love to hear concerns they have about stories we’ve written, things they think should be included in the newspaper and things they think shouldn’t be.

    July 27, 2014

  • Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial

    NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
    And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.

    July 25, 2014

  • 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

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