Ken Gordon: If you don’t show up, you don’t have a say
August 22, 2008
The world is run by people who show up.
There are 499,577 registered voters in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District. The district has a large Republican voter-registration edge. Some 70,961 people voted in the Aug. 12 Republican primary, which is 14 percent of the electorate. Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman won this four-way election with 28,457 votes; that is 5.7 percent of the registered voters.
Secretary of State Coffman does have a general election opponent, a Democrat by the name of Hank Eng. Given the country’s mood this year, a Democrat might win that district, but if Coffman does win the general election, he will have been put in that position by only 5.7 percent of the electorate.
In Boulder, in the second congressional district, there are 444,511 registered voters. This district has a substantial Democratic registration edge. In the Democratic primary, 47,831 people voted; that is 10.8 percent of the total electorate. Jared Polis won this election with 19,942 votes, which makes 4.5 percent of the total electorate. There is a Republican in the race as well, but it is unlikely that the Republican will win, so Polis probably will get this seat with just 4.5 percent of the registered voters.
In Congressional District 5, Republican Doug Lamborn won his primary with 25,019 votes out of a total registered electorate of 412,918. He has a Democratic opponent, Hal Bidlack, who may also be able to cash in on an anti-incumbent mood. However, if Lamborn does hang on to win, he will have gotten there with a vote of 6 percent of the electorate.
This is not any criticism of Polis, Lamborn or Coffman. Although they each have a large registration edge, they all face general election opponents. However, these are seats where the primary may be the deciding election, and it is striking how few people participate in these elections.
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Remember that Congress decides if we stay in a war, how much our taxes should be, and what services we can get. Our Congressional representatives in the House and Senate decide whether we drill for oil in the Arctic or whether we fund a President’s foreign adventures.
I continue to be concerned at how few people participate in our democratic process.
In a country with a democratic method of electing leaders, people don’t “get to” participate in elections. If Americans want good leaders, then they “have to.”