Letter to the Editor: Voting Is the Most Powerful Way to Be Heard

Door County voters will be interested in voting in the Aug. 9 primary election. They may choose to vote in the Republican primary, selecting candidates for governor and Assembly; or in the Democratic primary, selecting a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

Wisconsin’s citizens have a privilege that many other states do not provide. In many states, citizens can vote only in the primary of their political party. Wisconsin’s open primary allows all eligible citizens to vote, even if they are not a party member.

What is the purpose of a primary? Voters select one person who will represent each party for each office in advance of the general election.

How does a primary work? Voters must choose to vote in only one party’s primary, whether they’re a member or not. After deciding which party, they must vote only for candidates of that party. If they “cross over” – meaning they vote for even one candidate from another party – their ballot becomes void. If they had pre-selected a party and they cross over, the votes for the party they selected are still counted.

Why is voting in a primary so important? Primaries have a historically low voter turnout, especially in a nonpresidential election year. Recently, fewer than 15% of registered voters showed up: about 11% of the voting-age population.

Primary elections generally attract more partisan voters – those who are most active in their political parties. Consequently, those who win are usually more extreme candidates. If elected, these candidates are often less willing to work “across the aisle” with the opposition party to craft compromises and moderate policy. General-election voters are thus more likely to be dissatisfied with their options.

Elected officials often listen most closely to money, votes and courts. Even if citizens voted only for one person, it would be counted and duly noted.

Often decided by very few votes, elections have consequences, impacting how communities, states and the country are run. Whether at the local, state or national level, voting is the most powerful way to be heard!

Be sure your voter registration is up to date, and vote on Aug. 9!

Susan Kohout

Chair, League of Women Voters of Door County

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin