Every vote counts

May 24, 2006 12:00 am

Don't think your vote counts?

Up in Union County, a county commission race on the May 16 ballot was decided by just 48 votes.

Closer to home, the Baker County library levy is likely to fail not because voters didn't support it, but because less than 50 percent of registered voters returned ballots (Editor's note: a day after this editorial appeared, the Herald learned that the levy failed for want of 60 more ballots to reach 50 percent voter turnout. Of those 49.4 percent who did cast ballots, 59 percent supported the levy).

There's no excuse not to vote in Oregon.

Vote by mail gives you weeks to mull your choices, do research and return your ballot.

And the state's voters guide puts information about candidates at your fingertips, with even more available via newspapers, television, radio and the Internet.

Still, only 49 percent of Baker County voters cast ballots in the May 16 primary. Statewide, that figure falls to 38 percent.

Sure, this ballot wasn't full of initiatives or final decisions on key political races.

But you shouldn't have to be entertained by the ballot to cast a vote.

Being an engaged citizen isn't a hobby in a democracy.

It's a right and a responsibility.

Consider voters in Montenegro, which as part of the former Yugoslavia has had a democratically elected government only since the early 1990s.

A full 88 percent of registered voters turned out there over the weekend to vote on a referendum for independence from Serbia.

No doubt, interest was high because the vote in Montenegro was a powerful and symbolic one about a people's future.

But in a democracy, library levies and Supreme Court justices are just as much about the future of your community as independence.