Originally created 10/10/05

Fighting voter fatigue

Even though voting is a precious right, turnouts - even in exciting elections - are seldom as high as they should be, especially considering that voting also is every American's civic duty.

But even for the most civic-minded citizens, voter fatigue can set in when they're asked to go to the polls too often. The frequency of elections also can breed the indifference that discourages Americans from going to the polls in the first place.

This year, Augusta-Richmond Countians have trudged to the polls for last June's local general obligation bond election, and for last month's special election for the District 22 state Senate seat - fortunately won by Ed Tarver without need of a runoff. Now voters are being asked to show up Nov. 8 for municipal elections, and again a few weeks later for at least some runoffs.

Imagine the fatigue if voters had to cast yet another ballot in early December to elect a new House District 121 representative to succeed the late Henry Howard. And, of course, a runoff might also be required a few weeks later.

Fatigue? It's more like exhaustion.

Anyhow, the good news is that, despite early indications that a December special election would be necessary, the House seat election will be held Nov. 8 after all, with the municipal elections.

That not only means the turnout will be heavier, it also will save local taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars . The special election Tarver won set taxpayers back $85,000.

There are two reasons why the District 121 House seat will be decided Nov. 8, instead of later. Gov. Sonny Perdue promptly issued the writ for the election the day after Mr. Howard died, giving Richmond County Board of Elections Director Lynn Bailey and her hard-working crew just enough time to get absentee ballots to the printer and back by the Oct. 17 deadline.

Interest in the municipal elections - including the race for Augusta's mayor - is high despite all the balloting earlier this year. Now, instead of adding to voter fatigue in December, the District 121 House race will add spice to the elections in November.

But pay attention. The campaign will only be a few weeks long.


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