Election season is generally not one of this reporter’s favorite times of year.
Don’t get me wrong – I love the democratic process and take pride in my right and my privilege to vote for my elected leaders. I don’t take it for granted because of the price many women and men paid so that women in this country could have that opportunity.
In particular, it means a great deal to me that 100 years and three months ago, Congress passed the 19th amendment guaranteeing all American women the right to vote. The amendment would be ratified by the requisite 36 states the following year, with the first votes cast in the General Election in 1920.
I am not so enamored of some of the trappings that come with elections, including way too many signs on the roads, a mailbox full of campaign materials, and dramatic commercials ripping the opposition apart.
But all of that aside, my right to vote is important to me, as I would hope it would be for many Americans.
It may seem a little early to bring this up, but I do so because an important upcoming deadline in the election process is quickly approaching. The deadline to register to vote or update your registration information is Tuesday, Oct. 15. If you want to be eligible to vote in the Nov. 5 General Election, that date is essential.
To be honest, part of me recognizes that I may be preaching to the choir here. As of Sept. 25, director of elections Karen Alexander said there are 21,701 registered voters in Powhatan County. We don’t have the most updated census information, but, based on the last census and projections, she estimates right around 85 percent of the voting-age population is registered to vote in Powhatan. It’s not 100 percent, but it’s still pretty good.
That’s the first hurdle. The next one to focus on will be getting people out to vote. In the 2015 General Election, which was the last election comparable to the upcoming election, Powhatan had 19,548 registered voters and a 51.4 percent turnout, Alexander said. She is anticipating around the same percentage turnout on Nov. 5, 2019.
I think we can and should do better. Presidential elections are important, and Powhatan does well with those numbers. But if you think about the day-to-day operations of how this county runs and how it all affects your daily life, the local election is hugely important.
Come November, Powhatan residents will have a voice in choosing their state senator, delegate, sheriff, supervisor, school board member, treasurer, commonwealth’s attorney, commissioner of the revenue, and soil and water conservation director. These people all have a huge influence on the everyday lives of every single person in this county in very real and visible ways. Exercising your right to help choose who has that power is in your hands.
If you have any specific questions about this election or want to view a sample ballot, visit the Powhatan County Office of Elections and Voter Registration website at http://www.powhatanva.gov/310/Voter-Registrar or you can contact the office by calling 804-598-5604.
Laura McFarland may be reached at Lmcfarland@powhatantoday.com.