Our View

Area voters, give yourselves a big ol' pat on the back.

Voter turnout in Jasper and Newton counties was huge, as it was across the nation. It is a privilege to witness Americans exercising their franchise, and it has been flatly gobsmacking to see how many did so this year, in the midst of a devastating pandemic.

On Tuesday, 52,671 Jasper County voters — 64.1% of registered voters — went to the polls. Jasper County Clerk Charlie Davis said the county has seen an increase of roughly 5,000 voters over the past four years, from around 77,000 to 82,141, “so it was a larger turnout (this year) because we had more people registered to vote.”

Newton County Clerk Tami Owens said, “It definitely was the largest that we have seen in Newton County.” More than 28,000 voters, or 68.1% of 41,758 total voters, went to their polling places. In 2016, Newton County recorded a turnout of 67.3%, she said.

The upshot is more voters went to the polls — by a significant margin.

As Susan B. Anthony said: “Someone struggled for your right to vote. Use it.” You have, and thereby honored the sacrifice of so many who fought — and died — to ensure you can.

Further, “Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another, this country, and this world,” according to author Sharon Salzberg. That commitment is essential to the operation of our republic. Thank you.

And to our county clerks and poll workers whose planning and diligence made it possible to handle crowds while managing coronavirus protections, thank you. You have done your duty admirably.

Newton County saw the vote finish on time and Jasper County saw one precinct in Carl Junction with a line about a block long when polls closed at 7 p.m. Voters in line finished casting their ballots smoothly.

“We did a very good job in an imperfect world, where this whole COVID thing has created a different animal in our election process,” Davis said. “ ... At the end of the day, everybody who was authorized or allowed to vote had the opportunity to vote, and we made that happen. I’m very pleased with that.”

We are too. Good job.

One final note: Despite passions and crowds, there were no significant disruptions here. People respected the process and precautions.

Again, well done.

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