Fewer than 40,000 registered voters turned out to cast ballots during the two-week early voting period leading up to the West Virginia Primary Election on Tuesday. That prompted some officials to predict a very low turnout for the primary.
If that happens, it will merely continue a pattern that began many years ago. Election turnouts often are dismally low in our state, sometimes in the 25 percent range. That means important decisions are made by just one-fourth of the electorate.
Some analysts blame "election fatigue" resulting from several rounds of balloting needed to fill the U.S. Senate and governor's posts left vacate directly and indirectly because of the death of the late Sen. Robert Byrd. Mountain State residents are simply tired of listening to candidates, thinking about which to support, and trekking to the polls. So the theory goes.
That implies many West Virginians are tired of doing their duty - and of using the most powerful tool at their disposal to make government do what they want. If so, that is a sad and discouraging comment on our society.
The election tomorrow is a primary, with most of those on the ballot not actually being elected but merely receiving their parties' nominations for the November general election. But as we have pointed out, there also will be nonpartisan municipal and board of education races throughout the Northern Panhandle. Winners in those races will be elected.
When a majority of registered voters become too apathetic - or lazy - to vote, government of the people and by the people is in trouble. It is only a matter of time until government for the people is jeopardized.
Please, go to the polls and vote Tuesday, if you have not already done so through early voting or an absentee ballot. Polling places will be open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., so you should be able to adjust your busy schedule to participate.
It's important, not just to government but to the governed - you and your family. This is your chance to have an influence, and we urge you to exercise it.