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Ignore the vote and it will go away.

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
March 12, 2002


As the bottle blond reported low voter turn out, it occurred to me how little Americans value the gift of representational government. Last week, only 29 percent of the registered voters in North County took time to participate in the governance of their lives. When did big "D" democracy become so unimportant? So small?

I'm the type of person who actually enjoys voting. Usually it takes five minutes, but I savor those five minutes of responsibility for it is through this process, no matter how tarnished, that we rise above our lesser instincts. We went to war to insure a government by the people and for the people. Shouldn't the people continue do their part?

There were issues on the March 5th ballot that affected the lives of everyone in California, and local ones equally important but only to those of us living sandwiched between Camp Pendleton and the Mexican border. Coastal protection, term limits, transportation, and taxes, to name but a few, all put before the people. But the people were a no show. What's up with that?

Supervisor Bill Horn was not reelected to office by a ground swell of popular support. Of the 545,865 people living in the 5th District, and 252,256 votes possible, only 97,983 ballots were cast, of which Mr. Horn received 42,387. Once the math is done it is what one sees is that an approximate 7.8 percent minority elected the official that will set the agenda for the next four years. Sixty one percent, a sizable majority, of those who could have voted didn't. Perhaps this is what is meant by the term silent majority.

Of the 39% who did, 47 % of those voted for someone other than Bill Horn. So it is nothing more than a linguistic slight of hand to say the District 5 supervisor race was with a majority vote. In reality 86 % percent of those who could have punched a chad for the Supervisor didn't. Perhaps this is why the Supervisors bills himself on his website as " the bottom line in leadership."

To say Bill Horn was once again elected by a narrow special interest group would not be unreasonable, considering most of Supervisors Horn's campaign contributions have come from development over the course of political life. Is it any wonder that everyone one sits in near gridlock because growth is out pacing sustainable planning and infrastructure construction?

These numbers show that because of the collective apathy of eligible voters, all it takes is a small margin to get elected and thus set the regional agenda without a public mandate to do so. In the case of Supervisor Horn, and those that supported his reelection , their agenda is one that embraces the "Growth at all costs" philosophy, without any consideration of the environmental consequences evidenced in our diminishing quality of life.

Low voter turn out can also be interpreted as tacit acceptance of the status quo. If this is the case, one could only surmise Southern Californians consider overpopulation, resource depletion, groundwater pollution, and habit destruction as wise civic governance.

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