As a citizen of this democracy it is your obligation to vote in every election. Ballots have been sent out to registered voters and can be mailed in several days before the election or dropped off before 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17th. If you are an adult resident of Oregon and are reading this you have either: a) already voted in the May 17th Primary Election, b) have received your ballot but have not cast it yet, or c) never registered to vote.
If you are in the third category, we’re sorry, but you’ve lost your opportunity to participate this time around. Unlike many states, Oregon has a registration deadline for upcoming elections. That deadline has come and gone. But that should not stop you from registering for our next election. And thankfully, due to the recently passed “Motor Voter” law people registering or renewing their driver’s license will automatically become registered voters.
If, on the other hand, you are registered and have already voted, then thank you. Oregon makes it so ridiculously easy to vote. All you need is a pen and a stamp. We hope you completed your entire ballot and did not “undervote.” That’s when people fail to vote for a candidate because they can’t decide or are unfamiliar with the candidates. If the names were unfamiliar, we hope you pulled out and read the Voter’s Pamphlet you received in the mail, or picked up at the library or post office and made a choice.
If you voted already we especially hope you voted the bottom of your ballot. It is here that you are faced with your most important decisions as a voter, for it is here that the candidates for local office appear. It is likely that your quality of life will be affected as much or more by a Salem City Councilor than by the President of the United States. Only half of registered voters in Salem will vote for City Councilor this year. Salem has eight wards and Councilors serve four-year terms so only four Councilors are elected every two years in the Primary. The Mayor, however, must stand for election every two years. Even though our Mayor only has one vote like the other eight Councilors, he or she wields a lot of influence and in many way sets the direction of our city.
Turnout in the last Primary Election in 2014 in Salem was a disgrace. Only 27% of registered voters bothered to cast a ballot. But even worse, there was a 29% undervote in the Salem City Council elections. About one in three of the voters who bothered to vote did not vote in the races that meant the most to them and to this community. That’s just dumb.
If you haven’t voted already, vote damn it! Just do it. Get out that ballot from the pile of old mail, retrieve that Voter’s Pamphlet from the recycling bin and fill the ballot out, top to bottom. By the time you are reading this you may have to drop your ballot off to make sure it makes it to the county elections office by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17th. No problem. There are six convenient drop off sites in Salem listed in your Voters Pamphlet.
Do it. Now!
Salem Weekly editorial board members: Russ Beaton, Jim Scheppke, William Smaldone, Naseem Rakha, A.P. Walther.
Primary Election Countdown
Last day to register to vote was April 26
Last day to mail ballots
was May 10