The recent primary election was a disservice to the St. Joseph County voter. The low turnout levels in such an important primary justifies the need for more voter locations.
Long lines were observed at most polling places and ensuing wait times create a disincentive to participate in future elections. Not only were voting locations cut from 120 to 12, but people living in New Carlisle, North Liberty, Walkerton, Wyatt, Woodlawn, Crumstown, Ardmore and Lydick were not able to vote anywhere in their own towns or communities.
Additionally, township residents of Madison, Liberty, Lincoln Greene, Olive, and Warren could not vote within their own townships. Some people had to drive 15 miles or more to vote. That is unacceptable in 2020. This is not the way a democracy should work.
The upcoming fall general election for President, Governor, and members of our House of Representatives, in addition to local county races, is an extremely important election. One in which we need every person having the desire to vote to be able to exercise that right in our community by supplying everyone with a polling site within close proximity to their home.
We also do not want people gathered at a polling site for an unreasonable length of time for many reasons not limited to our nation and this community still dealing with a deadly virus. The more polling places we have the easier it is for everyone who works the polls and citizens who use the polls for voting.
In the general election, I am calling for our community leaders regardless of party affiliation to begin working now with the St. Joe County Election Board to provide everyone the opportunity to vote.
We should encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote with not only absentee ballots and early voting locations but polling places near their homes. At a minimum of 60 voting centers should be located evenly across the county. There are 191,025 registered voters in the county, 12 voting centers is clearly not enough.
Many people want to vote on Election Day in-person to know their vote has been cast for the candidates of their choice and this right should be afforded in the best location possible for them. This is a right that citizens should practice for the betterment of their communities and our nation.
The official numbers should be available next week, but all indications are the total for our primary election was one of the lowest in recent history.
Politicians are the first to complain about voter apathy but if you don’t provide polling locations within close proximity to our citizen’s homes, you defeat the purpose of a free society being able to decide on the leaders they want.
The current area elected officials should work with the election board to ensure safe, secure, and accessible voting options.
Derek D. Dieter