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OUR OPINION: How to shape Grand Forks' future: Vote

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In every election, there are moral reasons to vote.

But in today’s election in Grand Forks, there’s also a practical, hard-nosed reason involving raw self-interest.

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It is this:

In today’s election, an individual’s vote is likely to matter more than it does in most elections, simply because the turnout today is expected to be low.

And a low turnout, of course, means that the voice of every person who does choose to vote is greatly amplified.

Want to influence what goes on in the Grand Forks School District, Grand Forks City Hall and even the North Dakota Legislature? Then get yourself to the polls, because today is your day.

It’s the day when your influence as a voter and taxpayer will be at an all-time high.

Some 20 candidates are running for Grand Forks School Board, for example. Voters can fill in the circles next to seven of the 20 names.

That means the total number of votes for any one candidate is likely to be quite low, by the standards of most elections.

And that, in turn, means the margin of victory or defeat could very well be a single vote.

Your vote.

The elections for county commissioner, Park Board commissioner and some Grand Forks City Council wards also feature more candidates than there are open seats. Voters today will exercise dramatically outsized — maybe even decisive — influence in those races, too.

There’s even a constitutional amendment on the ballot: Measure 1, which would change the filing deadline for the submission of initiated measure petitions.

Want to have your say on an issue of statewide importance, one whose effects will be felt again and again in years to come? Then step on out and vote on Measure 1 today, if you haven’t done so already.

Comparatively few of your fellow North Dakotans are expected to do the same. So, your vote will carry enormous weight.

“Turnout is expected to be anemic on Tuesday — less than one-quarter of eligible voters even — as it often is for North Dakota primary elections,” The Associated Press reported Saturday.

And that’s a shame, because too few North Dakotans realize how much their vote counts — especially in the life of their local community.

“It is THE election for almost every city and county,” said Al Jaeger, North Dakota’s secretary of state.

“It is often where the government is closest to the people. It’s a very important election that should not be taken lightly.

“If you’re going to be talking about potholes, then you need to pay attention to the city elections. If you’re concerned about schools, you need to pay attention to school elections.”

In all likelihood, comparatively few voters will pay attention to Jaeger, even though everything he says in that passage is accurate.

That’s the bad news. The good news is especially good for those who do choose to vote, because they will exercise great power.

You’re welcome to join them; it’s not an exclusive club. The door is wide open for you, too, to exercise dramatic influence today over your community’s future.

And all you have to do in order to step through that doorway is vote.

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