by Joe Schwartz
When I called Orange County Board of Elections Chairwoman Tracy Reams today I thanked her for her time. "You must be very busy these days, so I appreciate it," I told her.
"Well, not as busy as we'd like to be," she replied.
That might seem odd for a woman whose overseeing three early-voting sites, one per Hillsborough, Chapel Hill and Carrboro, but Reams says the sites haven't been used nearly as much as she expected.
At the close of Monday it was 11 days since early voting began in Hillsborough and a full week since Chapel Hill and Carrboro joined in. So, how many have turned out to the polls? In Chapel Hill, 454 came to the Morehead Planetarium. The Carrboro Town Hall has seen 310 voters. Hillsborough has had a scant 48 residents vote thus far at the Board of Elections office on King Street.
"We were hoping for a whole lot more than that," Reams said. "Comparing to last year, we were doing at Carrboro and Morehead in one day what we've done in six days this year."
Obviously the slate of municipal races doesn't have the same cache as an Obama-McCain contest, and the numbers are dismal to date. Durham County's primary earlier this month saw only 4 percent of eligible voters participate.
While not as sexy as 2008, these races help define who leads us locally, which is arguably even more important. If you haven't voted, and by the numbers that's a lot of you, please take some time to familiarize yourself with the candidates and head to the polls, if not today, then on Nov. 3.
It's not only the hopefuls who need your vote; it's the community, which needs qualified and capable people to lead it.