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Don’t whine if you didn’t vote

OPINION

BY LEN CABRERA

The dust has finally settled on the 2022 Primary Election in Alachua County. Many election signs are still up (some justifiably for run-off elections), but the whining has already started, mostly from people who complain about how Alachua County, the City of Gainesville, and Alachua County Public Schools are run, with added frustration that little is likely to change. Based on the pathetic turnout numbers, most of these whiners should look in the mirror instead of complaining.

Less than 30% of eligible voters bothered to vote (full results here). Democrats edged Republicans in turnout percentage but had nearly twice as many voters because there are nearly twice as many registered Democrats in Alachua County. Voters with no party affiliation (NPA) and other parties combined had a pathetic 12% turnout.

Labeling the August 23 election as the 2022 Primary Election probably confused some voters who typically don’t vote in primaries because they’re not Democrats or Republicans. However, there were several nonpartisan races that these registered voters missed out on: four school board members, three Gainesville City Commission seats, Gainesville mayor, and circuit judge.

The common complaint from Republicans and NPAs in Alachua County is that it’s a one-party county because Democrats (or their chosen candidates in nonpartisan races) always win. That becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when non-Democrats don’t bother to show up.

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Based on registration numbers, non-Democrats (Republicans, NPAs, and other parties) actually outnumber Democrats in Alachua County by nearly 8,000 voters – although, of course, we don’t have any information on how NPAs lean. NPAs form a significant voter block in Alachua County, but that doesn’t matter if they don’t bother to vote.

In this last election, only 30,580 Democrats showed up to vote, so Republicans would have provided a margin of 18,000 votes if they’d all shown up. Even if just two out of every three registered Republicans voted (assuming they all voted for right-leaning candidates), they would have won control of all the available seats in the election. But they barely managed half of that turnout.

If registered NPA or smaller-party voters had shown up at the same rate as Republicans and Democrats (or even as low as 28%), the total non-Democrat vote would have surpassed the Democrat turnout. These people didn’t bother to vote because they were either unaware of the nonpartisan races on the ballot or content with the direction of the county. Either way, they shouldn’t whine about what happens next.

Many people have brought up the high number of vote-by-mail ballots from Democrats (13,638 compared to 4,613 by Republicans), but when you take into account the 1.8-1 Democrat advantage, the numbers of combined vote-by-mail and election day votes were similar – in other words, if you look at the percentage of registered voters by party for each type of ballot, Republicans outperformed Democrats on election day and slightly outperformed Democrats in early voting, nearly making up for the Democrat vote-by-mail advantage. The overall turnouts were similar – 35.59% for Democrats and 34.52% for Republicans.

The number that should haunt Republicans is 31,669: the number of Republicans who didn’t vote. Every one of those people had the opportunity to request a vote-by-mail ballot online with a few minutes of effort. Every one of those people had access to seven different early-voting sites on eight different dates and a voting site in their neighborhood on election day. Other than being incapacitated, there is no excuse for not taking a few minutes to vote on one of those dates.

If you’re one of those 31,669 Republicans (or 40,431 NPAs) that didn’t vote, don’t whine when you’re subjected to higher utility rates, more crime, more panhandlers, lower-performing schools, and zoning laws that change the character of your neighborhood. Instead of whining, show up for the November 8 election.

  • This hits the nail on the head the only way to change Gainesville and Alachua County is for the Republicans to turn out and vote and see how many more times they run out of Republican ballots and if you don’t vote you really don’t have a right to complain about how the government is being ran

  • Thanks Len!

    Actually you didn’t vote, no deal with it and stop your whining.

    Instead of being like the Democrats and others who deflect or blame someone/something else; the Republicans who didn’t vote can wake up, look themselves in the mirror and say, “I did this.”

    Thanks! NOT!

    • “The Democrats and others”…..Sooo….am I incorrectly interpreting this as you saying that anyone who ISN’T a republican automatically deflects/blames others for the outcome of a particular situation? I certainly HOPE my interpretation is incorrect, because that would be an incredibly sad & obtuse blanket statement….putting it delicately….🙄

      • Interpret through whatever rose colored glasses you choose. Point is, people who take no action in an effort to curtail or prevent an action they don’t agree or don’t want to happen to them will not get much sympathy from me.

        Don’t want to get a DUI, don’t drink and drive. Don’t want to be stuck in a low income career, do something to make yourself marketable. Don’t want to get shot by the police, do things to minimize the likelihood of that happening.

        But no, as I specifically mentioned, Republicans blame others as well. A fine example…see Trump.

        • I must’ve missed where you specifically mentioned the bit about Republicans and blame….and I’m not sure where these imaginary, rose-colored glasses come into play here, because I certainly see nothing rosy about the way things are going in this town. Just another general/blanket statement/ assumption from a stranger to be taken with a grain of salt, I guess! 🤷🏼‍♀️🤓

    • That’s a salient point. I decided to look at some data myself, and found that there are only nine cities over 100,000 in population that vote Republican as of 2022. Those are in Texas (4), Tennessee (3), Louisiana (1), and Arizona (1). Traditionally, the larger a municipality becomes, the more likely it is to vote Democrat. And it’s hard to overcome that sort of momentum.

      Lucky for me, I prefer the country and despise Gainesville.

  • People should focus on opening more quality private schools here since the public school system is so messed up. Keep costs low and use school voucher money from the state. As far as the voting numbers, it’s just pathetic. At the same time, it would be reassuring to know that competent, trustworthy people were in charge of running the election. Maybe the numbers are all wrong after taking almost 6 hours to “count” the votes when it normally takes 2 hours at most.

  • George Carlin used to opine about voting. To paraphrase, he said people like to say that you have no right to complain if you don’t vote. But continuing, he said if you go out and elect dishonest, incompetent people (and both sides are full of them), and they do things you disagree with, you in fact have no right to complain. You created the problem. You approved, let them in, lesser of two evils or not. But if I, finding both candidates dishonest and incompetent, choose not to vote for either of them, I have every right to complain, because I didn’t vote for either one.

    I agree with considering either candidate, no matter what flavor your politics is (mine is pretty plain), and making a conscious choice. But voting is a right, not a responsibility. And sometimes my right includes a responsibility to myself to withhold my approval from both sides. I get to say, “You know what? The system sucks. The public sucks. The people that have been allowed to get as far as being candidates suck.”

    It’s my genuine hope that we can someday have only honest, competent people running for office, in which case I get to decide which one I like a little better or have a little more hope in. But I just don’t see that as commonplace in humanity. So until that day of only honest, competent people, if I don’t like what I’m smelling, and I hold my nose and turn my head, I have every right to complain when it stinks to me.

    I do of course vote occasionally. Sometimes one candidate stands out as believable, and then I have to take responsibility if they screw it up. But if I think my choice is between a train wreck and a plane crash, my conscience is clear when I know I haven’t approved of either one.

      • Of course not. But that wasn’t my point. My point was that I have the right to choose neither if neither represents my values. And if the public in general raises to candidacy two persons who cannot and will not represent my values, and I choose neither, I have every right to complain.

        And, no, it’s not fair to suggest that I run for office myself. The costs are prohibitive and are designed to be so, lest I make it my mission from a very young age to start with a tiny town commission and work my way up to the state or national level over a lifetime the way current ingrained politicians are.

        The system is broken.

    • I’ve often been told that if you don’t have a solution, then you’re part of the problem.
      However, people have lost sight of who is the best person for the job and only vote along party lines. So this often results in electing the lesser person for the job.

  • The people who complain “it doesn’t matter” are the ones suffering the most from being clueless of the DNC agenda: gov’t meddling in everything in order to increase gov’t size, general mayhem and therefore gov’t job security. It’s time to purge all branches of gov’t.

  • I have lived here in Gainesville most of my life and have voted in every election. The very low voter turnout used to drive me nuts until one day I was talking local politics to a friend of mine who is on the same side as me but said she doesn’t vote because she knows nothing about these candidates other than the post cards and street signs, and also said that she doesn’t even know how to find out about them. I told her what I do, but it dawned on me that there really isn’t a forum of public information easily available to the citizens of Gainesville about the candidates. Yes going to commission and any other publicly available meetings is a good way to know about the incumbents, but for info about candidates, it’s not so obvious to know who they really are. I have also found that most people don’t want to interrupt their comfortable routines to make an effort to educate themselves anyway. I really don’t know what the answer is.

  • I hope ballots run out for republicans in the general election too. Give them a taste of their own medicine: voter suppression.

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