Down to the wire: Why voting matters

Don’t let others decide who is elected and how your tax dollars are spent

Early voting continues on Saturday everywhere in Florida and through Sunday in Jacksonville. (WJXT/Steve Patrick)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With only a day or two left to vote early (depending on which county you’re in) and a few days to submit a mail-in ballot, only 30% of registered Floridians have voted, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan and other election forecasters expect a 60% or better turnout by the time polls close Tuesday.

We better get busy!

Top Republican and Democratic politicians often portray this election as critical to ensuring the future of our nation. But knowing who is telling the truth is difficult when politicians seem to operate in two different realities.

Could voters’ frustration with our increasingly polarized political process make them less likely to vote? A New York Times/Siena College poll conducted last month found that more than a quarter of all voters – 41% of Republicans – have little or no confidence in the accuracy of this election. The survey also found that many people are pessimistic that the country is capable of coming together to solve its problems, no matter which party wins.

Yet the people who run elections in Jacksonville and Florida are confident our voting systems are safe and accurate and urge citizens to make their voices heard. And under our constitution, local elected officials run the process – not the U.S. government or political parties.

“We are dedicated to the cause of election integrity, ensuring that every eligible voter’s ballot is counted accurately and that no fraud takes place,” Marion County Elections Supervisor Wesley Wilcox wrote in a letter signed by all the supervisors of elections in all 67 Florida counties. “But false claims of fraud do not strengthen our elections. Instead, they degrade confidence in the institutions, and discourage citizen participation in our democracy.”

News4Jax isn’t here to tell you how to vote – please call us out if you ever think we do – but we do openly advocate for citizens to be involved in making our community better. That’s why give so much coverage to elections and why we prepare a Voter’s Guide that lets every candidate respond to the same set of questions. We hope it cuts through the campaign rhetoric and helps you know who deserves your support. Our guide also gives information about those running for local office in your county that’s hard to find anywhere else.

As you decide if you’re going to vote early or on Tuesday, let me leave you with one indisputable fact to consider: If you don’t vote, you’re making a decision to let others choose who is elected and how our tax dollars are spent.