December 29, 2013

Get out and vote

The Daily Citizen

— Some 6,800 Whitfield County voters are eligible to vote in the Jan. 7 special election for state House of Representatives District 2.

By early afternoon on Friday, just 15 of them had actually voted in early voting. Another dozen or so have requested absentee ballots.

Early voting continues this week at the Whitfield County Courthouse, concluding at 5 p.m. Friday, so there’s time for those numbers to rise. And of course, voters could turn out on large numbers on Election Day.

But the low turnout so far indicates there’s little local interest in the race.

That’s too bad.

We could try to tell you that it’s your civic duty to vote. Or we could point out that the person elected to fill that seat will have a voice and a vote on a number of important issues in the next session of the General Assembly, ranging from the state budget to criminal justice reform to health care to education.

Instead, we’ll point out that when turnout is low, as it appears will be the case in this election, one vote can make a difference. And one precinct could make a different. If Whitfield County voters turn out in sufficient strength, they could determine the next representative for state House District 2. That district includes Trichum, Tunnel Hill and Westside in Whitfield County, as well as parts of Walker and Catoosa counties.

Pharmacist and former LaFayette mayor Neal Florence, businessman and former Chickamauga City Council member and school board member Steve Tarvin and attorney Doug Woodruff, all Republicans, are running for the unexpired term of Jay Neal, which concludes at the end of 2014. Neal stepped down in November after being appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal as executive director of the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Re-entry, which helps integrate prison inmates into society.

One of those men will be the next representative from District 2 and will go into the 2014 elections as the incumbent and likely favorite for a full term in the state House.

Your vote could well decide which of those men fills that seat. So if you live in Trichum, Tunnel Hill or Westside and are registered to vote, go by the county courthouse this week and vote. And if you can’t make it this week for early voting, remember that the election is on Tuesday, Jan. 7.