Fort Mill Times

Opinion: Democracy depends on citizens voting. York County goes to the polls June 20

If you paid any attention to national news in the past week, chances are you heard credible sources say publicly they have no doubt Russia interfered extensively with our 2016 presidential election. Not that anyone knows if the dictatorship influenced the outcome — it seems near impossible to determine one way or the other — but it could claim some measure of success if the intent was to foment instability and erode confidence in our democracy and institutions.

Judging by most elections over the past decade, and possibly even farther back than that, Russia need not have bothered.

Appallingly few eligible voters in our area are living up to their civic responsibility in local, state and national elections. In last month’s runoff in the Republican primary for U.S. House District 5, only 11 percent of eligible voters turned out for a race that was decided by a mere 221 votes. It’s staggering to contemplate that nearly 90 percent of eligible voters don’t care who the GOP candidate will be in this race to fill a vacant seat in Congress.

The S.C. House District 48 Democratic primary was hardly any better, with a whopping 14 percent turnout.

Take a moment and consider that right now, there are men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces in some of the most dangerous places in the world, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, fighting extremists who would love nothing more than the collapse of the U.S. Those extremists, as well as dictatorships in North Korea and elsewhere in the world must be delighted watching Americans lose interest in democracy. Our democracy. The one Americans have fought for since it was established 241 years ago. The one that depends on your participation, a relatively minimal effort at that, if it is to last and thrive.

Feeling ashamed yet?

If you are one of those people who neglected to vote in recent elections or rarely, or never, votes at all, you have a chance for redemption June 20. That’s when all eligible voters in our area will decide who will represent S.C.’s District 5 in the U.S. House and residents in S.C. House District 48 can choose a new state representative.

There’s even a final opportunity to meet and talk to most of the candidates in both races, including alternative party candidates for District 5. The River Hills/Lake Wylie Lions Club will host a meet the candidates session at 9:30 a.m. June 17 at River Hills Country Club. Everyone is invited. The only candidate who will not be there is Democrat Archie Parnell, running for the U.S. House seat. Event organizers said he is sending a representative.

We are not the first to say democracy can be a messy thing and often, it is. But it’s our messy thing and if anyone has a better idea than “government of the people, for the people, by the people,” we’d like to hear more about it.

Do your civic duty on June 20 and vote.