Not-so-Super Tuesday

I love being a Virginian for many reasons, and one of them is because of the politics. We aren’t seen as a classic swing state, but I like to think that we are. The dominant party might not change every election season, but it changes enough to keep it interesting. Considering all of the national media attention Virginia has been getting over our General Assembly session, I was extremely disappointed to see such a low voter turnout this primary season. According to the Associated Press, only 265,533 people across the state came to the polls for Super Tuesday, likely because of fellow candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich’s failure to earn spots on the ballot. This is a historically low turnout for the Virginia presidential primary, according to the Huffington Post.

Like a desert, poll booths were empty of life on Super Tuesday. Graphic by Laura Bramble.

Just to give you an idea of how low the turnout was, here are some figures:

In Montgomery County, less than 2,000 people came to the polls, compared with nearly 4,200 in 2008. In Pulaski County, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul combined received less than half the amount of votes that Mike Huckabee alone received in 2008. Other surrounding counties with low voter turnout include Giles County with 433 votes, Floyd County with 468 votes and Buchanan County with only 196 votes.

Two precincts in Craig County had only six people show up to vote, one precinct in Franklin County had eight voters, and only one person in Tazewell’s Amonate precinct voted, according to WDBJ7 anchor Chris Hurst.

State Senator Creigh Deeds — who lost — got more votes in the 2009 Virginia governor primary than Mitt Romney — who won — received this past Super Tuesday, Virginia politics blogger Ben Tribbett tweeted.

When Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife cast their votes at 9:30 a.m., they were two of the first 10 voters in their precinct, according to the Associated Press.

Sadly, not everyone agrees that voting in any election is important — especially not young people. I was speaking with a friend of mine at home the day before Super Tuesday and asked him who he was planning to vote for. Not only was he not planning on voting — he told me that he isn’t even registered to vote. His reasoning was that politics is just a “giant shouting match” and that he didn’t care about any of the issues. Other people told me they chose not to vote because they felt that it didn’t matter.

For those of you who think it doesn’t matter, consider this: the GOP primary in 2000 helped put George W. Bush ahead for good, according to the Associated Press. The same goes for the massive Democratic primary turnout in 2008 for Barack Obama. Both carried Virginia in the general elections of those years, and Obama was the first Democrat to win Virginia in a presidential race since 1964.

If you don’t vote, then you don’t have a right to complain about what’s going on in politics. Politics won’t change unless you decide to do something about it. If you’re tired of these politicians, get to the polls and do something about it. Your vote always matters; don’t waste it.