The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

August 10, 2012

Our View: Where are the voters?

The Joplin Globe

— It was an election that held all the potential for a record August primary turnout. On the ballot were a hotly contested sheriff’s race, a three-way battle for Jasper County commissioner and for Jasper County treasurer, as well as a battle for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination.

Yet, only 23.6 percent of the registered voters turned out in Jasper County. Better certainly than the spring municipal elections, when only 13 percent of the voters went to the polls, but still a dismal showing. And, even 23.6 percent is better than the average primary turnout in Jasper County.

Concerns were expressed after new voter identification cards were mailed out in early July and about 10,000 were returned to the county clerk’s office. Voter cards are not to be forwarded by the post office. Many were returned because they went to addresses in Joplin or Duquesne that were damaged or destroyed in the May 22, 2011, tornado.

After the Globe reported the high number of returned cards, a few vocal voices in the Republican Party called out Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, Gov. Jay Nixon, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and even President Barack Obama for not making sure the rights of those affected by the tornado had not been infringed.

It was opportunistic, in our view, on those who sought to make political hay just days before the primary.

Jasper County Clerk Bonnie Earl and her staff have worked diligently to reach those affected by the tornado, even going so far as to help them with their change of address at the polls on the day of the election.

The responsibility of voting rests squarely on the shoulders of the voters themselves. Information is easier to get now than it ever has been. By going to the secretary of state’s website and typing in your name and address, you can quickly see if your registration information is up to date. If you think there’s some question as to whether you are properly registered, we urge you to check before the November election.

There are any number of reasons why voters may feel disconnected or turned off by politics.

But it’s not because voting is hard.