Though polling locations were open all day Tuesday, the intersection of Church and Main in Covington – which is usually populated with campaign workers, pop-up tents and attention-grabbing signs – was quiet.
The Tipton County Election Commission office wasn’t the only polling location where it didn’t even seem like a typical election day.
In total, only 362 ballots were cast in the county primary, an election in which no one on the ballot actually lost their race.
On the county level, many politicians are registered as independent candidates, but those who chose to run as Republicans or Democrats were on the ballot Tuesday to narrow the options, just as is done in the presidential races.
Nine county commissioner and constable spots were on the ballot, plus county clerk, circuit court clerk, register of deeds, sheriff, trustee and county executive.
Of those 24 offices, just eight races included 11 candidates (one Democrat, 10 Republicans) who have declared a party and were on the ballot.
Everybody else, including 23 commissioners and each of the incumbents for county clerk, circuit court clerk, register of deeds, sheriff, trustee and county executive, are running as independents and were not involved in the county primary.
Because no more than two candidates were in any one race, there were no losers and everybody in the primary moved on to the Aug. 2 general election.
So taxpayers have just paid up to $56,550 for an election where no one campaigned, only 1.13 percent of people voted and everyone went on to August a winner.
Though the election commission said costs were likely only half of what was allocated, taxpayers have still paid an estimated $28,000 for an election not mandated by the state that had essentially had no results.
Even at the lowest estimates, this is still $77 per ballot cast Tuesday or 87 cents per registered voter. When you put it that way, it doesn’t seem as expensive, but $28,000 represents an annual salary (or more) for some of us. What else could have been funded with that?
The financial argument aside, there’s also the issue of the primary’s purpose on the local level.
Proponents argue this was a way to help educate voters by presenting candidate platforms and bring “qualified, bonafide, vetted Republicans” to the August ballot, but do partisan politics really matter on the local level?
In 2016, sports editor Jeff Ireland, when publishing news of the first county primary, wrote in an opinion column: “Do we really need to know, or should we even care, if the person in charge of determining property values is pro-life?”
No, we do not.
And while I think the election failed to serve the purpose for which it was intended, it wasn’t a total failure.
This week, people have been talking about the primary, which means they’re engaged in local politics, even if for a different reason.
An overwhelming number of us – 98.87 percent of voters – chose to sit this one out and I’m encouraged by the bipartisan opposition.
If you can get Jerry Craig – the ultra-conservative former Covington fire chief – and Covington alderman John Edwards – who tends to lean pretty liberal – to agree on this, then maybe we really need to rethink this.