Who do we blame for voter turnout? The election itself or voter apathy or both? I’m going to say both. And Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne might just agree with me. 

She challenged 3rd District Santa Barbara County Supervisor Joan Hartmann in the primary alongside Republican Frank Troise. Hartmann won, according to the uncertified election results, but it’s not exactly a landslide if you look at the number of voters who didn’t cast ballots at all. 

“While the election is over, pending certification, 77 percent of the voters either did not select the incumbent or did not participate,” Osborne said of the 3rd District race. “Since the incumbent only received 12,020 votes of the 51,275 registered voters (23 percent) in District 3, the incumbent’s election should not be viewed as a majority or a mandate, but rather a statement of voter apathy.” 

Osborne’s probably a little salty that she didn’t get more votes in the election, but she’s not wrong in her summation of things. The 42 percent voter turnout in the district should be “a wake-up call,” she said. It’s pathetic.

It’s not just the 3rd District that needs a wake-up call. 

Voter turnout was lower than usual countywide. The county elections office has so far counted up ballots from 41.6 percent of registered voters and doesn’t expect many more to come in. Come on, registered voters! It’s literally easier than ever to vote. You fill out the ballot that’s delivered to you, sign the envelope, and you stick it back in the mail. I guess we can’t be bothered.

The most exciting county race was in the 1st District, but it only got exciting after the votes were counted. Most political party peeps predicted that Das Williams would keep his seat on the dais—so, not exciting. But challenger Roy Lee was beating the incumbent after the first set of primary results were announced on March 5, and he kept that lead through every successive count. 

Williams conceded the race with a little more than 500 votes separating the two after the March 13 vote tallies were announced. That’s not a lot of votes, so votes really do count. If more people had voted, would Lee have come out ahead or not? I guess we’ll never know.

It was a big upset. But “do not worry about me,” Williams said in a Facebook post announcing his defeat. “But do worry about climate change,” he added, as if the two issues belong in the same breath. 

They don’t. Climate change and losing an election to a more moderate opponent are not even close! But I digress. 

With Grandad of the United States Joe Biden running against the idiotcrat known as Donald J. Trump, I’m not sure the November election will see a good turnout either. It doesn’t seem like anyone is particularly excited about 2024’s presidential election. I certainly am not. But I keep getting texts about rent control being on the California ballot, so maybe that’ll rev people’s engines to actually vote—although I doubt it.  

I will turn out. I will vote. Because even a canary’s vote counts. Because one choice is worse than the other and sometimes two bad options are all we get to choose between.

The Canary thinks apathy sucks. Send inspiration to [email protected].

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