November 6, 2013
We sure could use a few more people like Dorothy Little.
Little, of Hamlet, made sure she didn’t miss casting her ballot in Tuesday’s General Election. It didn’t matter her that Bill Bayless was running unopposed for mayor. It didn’t matter that there were no contests for county sheriff or state or federal lawmakers.
No matter how many or how few the contests, Little made sure her voice was heard.
“I am a super voter,” she said after exiting her precinct at First Presbyterian Church fellowship hall on Rice Street. “I vote in every election because I know the importance of having a vote and having a voice. I want to vote for the candidates that will serve the city of Hamlet, that will do what’s right for the city.”
Don’t agree with her choices for city council? Doesn’t matter. You had your chance to cast your own ballot and judging by the numbers, odds are you probably didn’t. At Little’s precinct, 670 other voters joined Little which resulted in a 21.7 percent turnout at that location.
That’s a fairly low number, and that’s one of the better figures available.
At Hamlet’s other precinct, located at First United Methdodist Church on Charlotte Street, only 123 of 1,897 — 6.48 percent — bothered to vote.
Rockingham’s voter turnout, including early voting, was 11 percent. Hoffman was 23.48 percent while Ellerbe voters recorded the highest turnout of the day at 34.49 percent. It’s no surprise that the town of Ellerbe led the way as the town of 1,054 people had the highest number of candidates (13) of any municipality.
Connie Kelly, elections supervisor for the Richmond County Board of Elections, sided with Little. Kelly said she was “surprised and disappointed” at such a low turnout across the country.
“Just like it’s their right to vote, it’s their right not to vote,” Kelly noted, but “I don’t really understand. I know there’s a lot of … voter apathy, or in general, people are tired of all the political stuff going on in the nation. I guess it trickles down, even though I think local elections are very important.”
There are some serious issues in the four municipalities. Hoffman has significant infrastructure needs. Ellerbe, as mayor-elect Lee Berry acknowledged, needs to be sure people don’t skip past the town on the new bypass and know that “Ellerbe is open for business.”
And Hamlet, with its ongoing personnel-related issues and personalities in general, should encourage even a casual observer to participate.
But it didn’t. Not on Tuesday. And that’s a shame.