Letter: Voting key to making government work for us

From: Kermet Merl Key


It’s not the size of the government that matters, but how you use it.

Our United States government, from city to federal, is a government of the people, by the people, for the people. It is not some nameless, faceless entity that wields power as it sees fit, but it is what we the people, you and I and every willing member of our society, use when we decide to work together in peace to accomplish great tasks for the good of the people without the motive of profit.

The problem we face isn’t one of rich or poor, nor that the government, we the people, wields too much power over our lives (the very definition of liberty), but that we the people have been absentee owners in our own democracy.

In Bartholomew County, the percentage of registered voters that voted in the general election of the last 10 years are as follows:

  • 2016: 59.83
  • 2015: 16.44
  • 2014: 32.4
  • 2012: 57.38
  • 2011: 33.12
  • 2010: 40.66
  • 2008: 58.84
  • 2007: 21.74
  • 2006: 42.34

Mid-term elections, like the one in 2018, seem to have the lowest voter turnout. They’re also when we determine local office holders, for city and county. Imagine, needing only 51 percent of the 42 percent of registered voters across the county to hold an office. That could mean having as little as 11,887 of 55,491 (21.4 percent) vote for that candidate. Some of us have almost that many friends on Facebook. But in most cases, not even that is necessary.

In 2014, I was elected to the advisory board of trustee in my township. I didn’t run a campaign or spend a single dollar to get the position (which it turned out paid an annual salary of almost $1,000 for less than 10 hours work in a year). I merely put my name on the ballot. There were not enough challengers in the primary nor the general election and everyone that “ran” for that position in 2014 was elected.

Here’s a quick list of other offices and the officials that were elected in 2014 (and that are up for re-election in 2018) that did not have an opponent in the general nor primary election:

  • Prosecuting Attorney of the 9th Circuit: William M. Nash (R)
  • County Auditor: Barbara J. Hackman (R)
  • County Recorder: Anita L. Hole (R)
  • County Treasurer: Pia O’Connor (R)
  • County Assessor: Lew Wilson (R)
  • County Commissioner District 2: Carl Lienhoop (R)
  • County Council District 2: Laura DeDomenic (R)
  • County Council District 3: Mark Gorbett (R)

None of these people seem rich nor powerful. They were elected simply because no one else wanted to take ownership of those positions. If we want an efficient, right-sized government that works for all of us, then we the people must represent ourselves.