The local voter numbers for Tuesday’s elections were encouraging. Across Terrebonne and Lafourche, we flirted with hitting 50 percent of registered voters turning out to participate in the elections.

In some districts and races, the numbers were closer to 60 percent.

Those figures are much higher than some elections in the past, lending some credence to the belief that voter education and participation efforts are working. They certainly appear to be.

With that said, though, enthusiasm over the “high” participation must be tempered with a realistic look at the whole picture.

First, it’s almost incredible to think that nearly 50 percent turnout in a set of elections is a good thing. People in other nations around the world would fight and die for the chance to go to the polls to help determine their own government. Here, where we are born with that right, so many of us fail or refuse to use it.

Second, turnout percentages compare the number of people who voted with the number of people who are registered to vote. They don’t tell us how many people aren’t registered to vote in the first place.

According to numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2016, only about 70 percent of people who are eligible to vote are actually registered. That number holds true for Louisiana as well.

Now the 50 percent looks more like 34 percent, or roughly one-third, of the people who can take part in our elections chose to do so. And only a majority of those is required for a candidate or issue to win.

Imagine a room with 100 local people who are eligible to vote. About 70 would be registered, and around 34 of those would have participated in Tuesday’s election. So, of those 100 people, around 18 would have been enough to make up a winning majority in the average race.

Clearly, more work remains to be done so that our election issues and winning candidates are chosen by representative majorities, not just half of the small percentage of people who can and do vote.

Our brave and selfless military members have fought around the globe to protect our rights as Americans. Our forefathers fought wars to win and maintain our independence. The least we can do is participate in the government they left us.

 

Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.