This is the number that shows most Luzerne County residents have no right to grumble about local government: 19.79 percent.
That’s the pathetic percentage of people 18 or over in Luzerne County who voted in May’s primary election. It was an historic low.
So 80 percent — four-fifths — of those old enough to vote did not. Sure, a chunk of them were registered but not with the two major parties and thus ineligible to vote in Pennsylvania’s closed primary. And sure, others had legitimate reasons for not voting. But there aren’t enough mitigating factors in the county to make that turnout anything but shameful.
And while the general municipal election is still a bit more than six weeks away, here’s another important number at the core of increasing voter participation: 11 weekdays.
That’s how long you have to register to vote in time for the Nov. 5 election. If you’re not registered by Oct. 7, you’re not voting.
You can download a registration form from the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections at luzernecounty.org, and mail or take it to:
Luzerne County Bureau of Elections
Voter Registration Division
20 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 207,
Wilkes-Barre, PA. 18701-3505
If you are registered, study the candidates for your local offices and for county and any other offices on your ballot. Find your voting poll location (also available on the county website), and get to the polls and vote.
If you are not registered, get online or head to the election bureau as soon as you can. Take care of this vital right. Don’t buy the arguments that you can’t make a difference, or that none of the candidates merits your vote, or that it doesn’t matter who gets in because they all end up the same.
None of that is true if voters take their responsibility seriously and use the right to vote wisely and consistently.
But when fewer than 20 percent of those old enough to vote do so, this is no longer a democracy.
It’s a travesty.