Write to the Point
Among my many habits, be they good or bad, is an interest in studying numbers and, in some people’s minds, worthless trivia.
My wife might argue that knowing and caring about numbers in the checking account, or remembering the names of couples we run into occasionally, are a much more important endeavor than being able to recite various sports statistics or care about yearly data on the flows of rivers across the region.
The big difference I’d counter would be my knowledge just might win me a championship as I compete with family in “Jeopardy” as I sit on the living room love seat.
But one group of statistics I found interesting in studying and parsing recently was some of the data that came out of the just completed general election.
Across the state nearly 42 percent of registered voters cast ballots and just over 41 percent did the same in Spokane County. It was an election that, outside of seeing whose millions would beat whose in the battle over labeling of genetically modified foods, was admittedly not very “sexy.”
Eighty-one percent cast their vote just about a year ago, but a selecting a president, governor, plus legalizing marijuana, charter schools and same-sex marriage were the drawing cards.
What’s perplexing is this is a state where ballots have been brought right to our homes in the daily mail since 1987.
It’s a place where voters can either use a 46-cent stamp or $3.50 a gallon gas to deliver them back to be counted and still so few choose not to exercise their right and fill in the dots.
But studying turnout in elections dating back many decades reveals some interesting data in its own right. Seems that having to physically go to your neighborhood polling place and have to greet the generally grey-haired poll workers, find your name on the voter rolls, sign off and then have to actually punch out those pesky chads delivered similar voter interest. The 1971 general election drew a dismal 30 percent of the county’s voters to the polls.
What further puzzles me is the general disinterest in so many school board elections. District after district after district featured candidates left unchallenged.
That seemed to tell me taxpayers are happy with graduation rates that are often suspect at best. Or that they are also happy with how the biggest single chunk of their property taxes are being well spent on a product that rolls off the assembly line with a significant number of defects.
I wrote myself in for a position on my school district in Spokane Valley, mainly out of protest and knowing that single vote would never count. I do have issues with how certain elements of my taxes are utilized by this school district, knowing I have documented how things could be done better – and for less – but was told “we like the way we do it now.”
While part of me in my next life might be interested in filling one of these empty slots on a future school board ballot, adding another meeting to attend and more numbers to plug into my head would certainly give my wife and I something worthwhile to discuss.