Letter to the Editor – Opinion Piece Regarding The Biggest Threat to Democracy Isn’t What You Think

Letter to the Editor

Calhoun County, AL – We believe that all our residents deserve to voice their opinions. All opinions are from the writer and are not the opinion of Calhoun County Journal. Please feel free to include your name or post anonymously. We will not posts threats or accusations. We encourage our reader interaction with this news platform.

Date Submitted July 28, 2022
Mercy Pilkington

We’re in an election year, and once again, this election is being called the most important election of our lives. I’ve heard (again) that this election may be our last if we don’t show up and do the right thing. We’ve had attacks on our nation’s capital, we’ve endured a violent transfer of power, we’ve watched as our fellow citizens threw an armed tantrum and defiled the very seat of our democracy so they could have their way.

And as we would come to find out later, many of those who’ve already been arrested for their role in the January 6th attack have one terrifying thing in common: they didn’t even vote.

Don’t talk to me about stolen elections if you didn’t bother to show up for one of the most basic rights we have.

Voter apathy and citizens’ indifference are what’s really destroying our country and it’s a common problem right here in Alabama. In this so-called “stolen election” in 2020, our state had 63% voter turnout, or less than two-thirds of the eligible voters. It was a minor improvement over other years, since slightly more than 50% of the voters usually bother to show up. We’ve had less than a handful of general elections since 1986 with even as much as 73% voter turnout.

In the primaries, it’s even worse. Alabama voters usually show up to a maximum of about 17% of the eligible voters or so, which is horrifying since there’s often new legislation on the ballot at those times. (Everyone likes to gripe about how Alabama doesn’t have a lottery… we had our chance in October 1999, but only 52% of the state’s eligible voters showed up to vote on it.)

“Why bother voting when there’s no one on the ballot that I like?”

That’s the next threat to our democracy. We live in a state where too often, there’s only one name in each elected office to vote for, and 2022’s upcoming mid-term election is no different. Of the 140 national and statewide offices on the ballot, 58 of those offices have a Republican candidate but no Democrat. In contrast, there are 21 state and federal positions that have a Democrat but no Republican. All total, the Secretary of State’s office has certified at least 62 Libertarian candidates all across the state at every level. There are a few independent candidates as well, but the numbers for all of these candidates are even worse at the local level.

We are literally scraping by in this state with no one to vote for, and that’s frightening. There is absolutely no excuse why every single position on the ballot doesn’t have qualified, certified candidates for us to choose from. The blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the state parties (the ones who like to fundraise endlessly), but it starts with the individuals who didn’t make the choice to run.

This is the thing that will destroy our democracy and ultimately, our country. There’s so much attention and blame given (rightfully) to white supremacist organizations, extremist religious nationalists, or unqualified celebrities like football players and snake oil doctors who are just in it for the money grab. But what will be our downfall is when the people decide it’s simply not worth standing in line for a little while to exercise their right and speak their voice.


–Mercy Pilkington

Candidate, Calhoun County Commission District 2


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