I woke up early this morning to go vote in Prince William County, Virginia. Due to a death, we have a special election today for Clerk of Court. It’s rare that I get an opportunity to vote in person alongside my wife, as work and travel usually have one or both of us voting absentee. She was voter number five at our precinct this morning. I was voter number six.
This is going to be a low turnout election. The community center we entered this morning was empty, aside from the poll workers. During the presidential election in November, there was a line around the building.
It would be easy, almost cliche, to say that the low turnout is some stunning indictment of our society and I wish more people had voted before me. I can’t say that at all. Voting isn’t virtuous, on its own.
How many people in Prince William County even know what the Clerk of Court is responsible for doing? I cast my vote this morning because my county has quick turnaround on concealed carry permits and I didn’t trust the Democrat to maintain that. I voted because I don’t want another elected official griping about their office being underfunded. I voted because I think Delegate Jackson Miller will be a fine fiscal steward of the office. I imagine many others voting will do so because literature arrived in the mail. That’s a damn shame.
I half-jokingly told a friend of mine this morning that I did my civic duty. We often hear those words associated with voting. The real duty, however, is understanding your government and believing in something. Most people voting today in Prince William won’t know what they’re voting for, I suspect, but a much higher percentage will have an idea than would in a normal November election.
Perhaps we should celebrate this lower turnout contest. A decent chunk of people showing up will do so because they care about local government. That is virtuous. Voting isn’t.