Last autumn in this space, we wrote about a local young woman who was experiencing the thrill of voting in her first presidential election.
That was then. This is now.
Just recently, the same woman was asked about Tuesday's local elections. A cloud seemed to pass over her bright eyes, and she admitted that she really hasn't been paying attention. She said she just wasn't very interested in school boards and that sort of thing.
Sadly, she's far from alone.
In the general election last November, 76 percent of Kootenai County's registered voters cast ballots. But the last time a school board election was held - May 17, 2011 - only 10.23 percent of the 66,259 registered voters bothered to cast a ballot. That's 6,778 citizens who voted, and 59,481 who had taken the necessary steps to vote, but didn't.
We're under no illusion that in Tuesday's local elections, when control of school districts, our community hospital and other issues will be decided, our county will come close to matching the interest and activism proudly displayed last November. But for democracy to work as it's intended, we need more than one out of every 10 registered voters to hop off their hind ends and exercise their voting muscles.
While the candidates and their supporters in this election differ greatly on how they view the roles of leadership, virtually every one of them agrees on the following statement: These elections are, to local voters, more significant than are presidential elections. It is not an exaggeration to say that the shift in power on the Coeur d'Alene School Board, for instance, could come down to one or two votes. You cannot say that about any presidential election in history.
We believe voters should be well-armed with information before casting a ballot, and that voting from a position of ignorance is worse than not voting at all. The Press has extensively covered the issues and candidates in these local elections, and all of that information - candidate profiles, coverage of candidate forums, letters to the editor and candidate endorsement letters - are all easily accessible on cdapress.com.
Please take time to learn more about the issues at hand and the individuals who are willing to step forward to serve you in these unpaid but important positions.
Then, come Tuesday, vote.