On arguably two of the more important fronts during Tuesday’s primary election day, voters in Bladen County once again failed miserably.
Of the county’s 22,545 registered voters, a mere 36.86 percent bothered to cast a ballot — and nearly half of those were done by absentee or early voting. That puts Tuesday’s turnout somewhere between pitiful and disgusting.
Of the 14,000 or so who didn’t vote, why did you bother to register?
And though we can’t say it would have made a difference had there been more responsible voters in the county, but those who did cast a ballot overwhelmingly nixed the Sales and Use Tax Referendum, which would have increased the county sales tax by a minuscule one-quarter cent to be used for the repair and renovation of the county’s 11 schools.
That vote literally stuns us.
Many have decried what Gov. Pat McCrory and the GOP-led state legislature has done to teacher salaries of late, claiming Republicans don’t care about teachers, students and education in general. Apparently voters in Bladen County, a great majority of whom are Democrats, don’t care either — killing a measure that would have raised an estimated $450,000 a year and gone straight to supporting local education; a measure that a good chunk of would have been paid by visitors and tourists along the way.
But there were some positives to come out of Tuesday’s primary.
First and foremost was the solid defeat of the countywide beer and wine sales referendums. It’s the first time voters in Bladen County have had such a widespread referendum on the ballot, and both the beer and the wine proposal fell to defeat by wide margins.
In the end, we think truth won out over lies, since proponents of the countywide sale of beer and wine tried to get voters drunk on pipe dreams of a big economic turnaround, a new grocery store coming and other off-the-mark claims.
The county also saw a couple of incumbents fall on Tuesday, while others managed to hang on and move forward. While we are always happy to see new faces taking seats, we also will miss the experience of those who are leaving.
But overall, what saddens us is the fact that we can’t say the people have spoken. Most of them never said a word, instead staying at home and letting the minority decide.