On Tuesday, Robeson County residents who live in all 15 municipalities will head to the polls to elect the people who will decide property tax rates, how tax dollars will be spent, zoning disputes, what streets will be paved first and countless other issues that affect their everyday lives.
But elections officials predict that fewer than one out of four eligible voters will bother to take the time to cast a ballot, which shifts a lot of power to those who do meet this civic responsibility. This election is absent the national, state and countywide races that drag people to the polls in high numbers, but a persuasive argument can be made that the winners of those higher-profile elections have less sway over our lives than do those who sit on municipal boards.
The low voter turnout is expected even with the convenience of of early voting, during which about 1,500 ballots have been cast — the most, encouragingly, for municipal elections since 2009.
Early voting indicates that the most interest is in Lumberton, where three City Council races are competitive.
There are spirited races for mayor in Fairmont and Red Springs, and for the town boards in Pembroke, Red Springs, Maxton and Fairmont. The pickin’s are pretty slim in the remaining eight municipalities, where about half the incumbents are unopposed. There are some municipalities that have fewer candidates than available seats.
On the Sunday before municipal elections we always encourage voters to take the 15 minutes that is required to vote, reminding them that never is the old adage that every vote counts more true than when we elect mayors and town boards during elections with pitiful to modest turnouts.
While your vote will never decide who is president, it might decide who is mayor. As an example, six years ago a Lumberton City Council race ended in a tie before a re-vote was ordered.
Voting is not only a civic duty, but failing to do so is shameful, especially when American soldiers are still dying on foreign soil to preserve freedom here, which can only be assured as long people participate in the democratic process. Your role in that process is the easy one.