Last week in this space, we questioned the decision by the Garner Town Council to seek the removal of an early voting site from Garner in light of the fact that all four incumbents were the only declared candidates in their races.
To their credit, council members revisited the matter this week and reversed their decision. There will be an early-voting site in Garner this year as had been planned.
Mayor Ronnie Williams correctly pointed out that elected leaders – including Garner’s – can sometimes make poor decisions. But he said the Garner council is a smart enough group to realize their mistakes, correct them and move on.
And that’s exactly what they’ve done. We’re well pleased they chose to do so.
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Voter turnout has been historically low for local elections, largely because there are no attention-grabbing races at the top of the ballot like a presidential race or a governor’s contest. And turnout is often lower when there are no hot-button issues driving voters to the polls. Such is the case in Garner where growth has resumed, schools are improving and the town is actively implementing projects from a bond issue approved by voters a few years ago.
Despite all those explanations for low voter turnout, it’s important that our government make voting a simple process and not one that makes it difficult to engage in. Let’s face it, if we don’t have to do something – and doing it is hard to begin with – we will choose not to do it nine times out of 10. Just like water seeking the path of least resistance as it flows downhill, people are often looking for the easiest path for their lives. If voting is an easy task, they’ll be more likely to do it. If it’s hard, well, there are too many other easier things to do that will take priority.
Perhaps that ought not to be the electorate’s attitude, but it is. By keeping the early voting site in Garner open, the town makes it easier for residents to take part in their own governance.
Revisiting the issue of closing the early voting site was the right decision. Council members may not have seen any backlash had they chosen to stick with their first decision, but in this case, they chose to do the right thing. They deserve our praise for that.