Early votes are in: Turnout looks so-so

The early votes have been tabulated for the upcoming Amarillo City Council election.

The numbers do not bode well for a barn-burning turnout. Officials say 7,992 votes were cast early.

Let’s do some math here.

The city is home to roughly 90,000 people who are eligible to vote, give or take. That means about 8 percent of the total voting population has cast ballots. The question now becomes: How many more will do their civic duty on Saturday, aka Election Day?

My experience with early voting — and I don’t believe in voting early if I don’t have to — I that it means only that more people vote early. Fewer of them vote on the actual Election Day. It hasn’t boosted turnout by itself.

My friend Chris Hays, general manager of Panhandle PBS, put together a great video promoting the need to vote. I’ve posted it once already on this blog. Here it is again:

The election has been contentious at times. It has featured some serious accusations of poor prior public service performance. Challengers to the incumbents have said the city is too secretive about its plans for downtown’s revival; incumbents have answered that the city has made downtown redevelopment plans available for public review.

There’s an element of folks in the city who want to see a wholesale rejection of the incumbents who are seeking re-election; four of the five are on the ballot.

Local media have published plenty of letters and guest columns hyping candidates and causes.

I hope for a big turnout on Saturday, right along with everyone else.

That ol’ trick knee of mine, though, tells me it’s going to fall a good bit short of what we all should want: greater — if not full — participation in representative democracy.

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