After an exhaustive day of encouraging voters by phone, direct contact, and any other way that I may find them, election night came to a close with little flare and little participation.
According to election results via the Orange County Supervisor of Elections website, just a little over 15 percent of voters turned out to vote on Tuesday. Turnout at some precincts in Orange County dipped as low as four percent while others went as high as 35 percent.
Primary voting days are traditionally low for turnout anyway, so expecting more than 15 percent was steeped in optimism, but why do we continue to expect more?
The erudite Cornel West makes a distinction between the words hope and optimism. He says that optimism is based on security and evidence while hope lacks the evidence that optimism seems to possess.
To be hopeful means that one is able to look beyond the dark clouds of today and see the sun shining tomorrow.
Some candidates live in the eternal world of hope because evidence will show and prove to them that their chances of winning aren’t likely.
That’s the same attitude that many in the political world have to take in order to stay engaged. There is hope that Orange County voters will buck a historical trend and show up by the droves on Election Day.
Hope that seeing a turnout number of 15 percent will soon be an anomaly because there is so much interest in voting and democracy.
But we haven’t reached that point, and the sadness that smacks us in the face every two years has yet to subside.
Maybe we’ve been doing it wrong this entire time. It’s not the voters who deserve blame for choosing the couch or a ballot, it’s the candidates and the workers who should wallow in it.
There’s obviously some disconnect somewhere as many have decided to forgo a trip to the polls.
But apathy seems to be a two-way street. At some point, it has to stop, right? Voters fail to believe that there is any worth in voting or those on the other side have little to no faith in voters.
Soon, my hope is that it will all change, because right now, I’m teetering on flipping from hopeful to optimistic.
And there’s always room for cynicism with optimism is present.
Note: For a full listing of Election Day results, please visit the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office website.
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