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From the Desk of County Commissioner
Jim Martin

(12/2016) Two highlights of this year’s election were the renewed and enthusiastic interest in the presidential election and the operation of the Electoral College. We were reminded that the popular vote does not elect the president, but the Electoral College, a system developed by the wisdom of our founding fathers. It is a guard against a strong faction leveraging their power to put others at a functional disadvantage, for instance, urban versus rural or small states verses large states. If the Electoral College was abolished, rural America would always be at the mercy of the vote from metropolitan regions.

In this year’s election the rural voters played a major role in electing the electoral voters of their respective states. Pennsylvania, for example, has 20 electoral voters who pledge their votes to the candidate who receives the most individual votes in PA. This is repeated for each state. Donald Trump was the choice of rural PA and much of rural America. This rural voter turnout was as much as 26% higher than the presidential election of 2012. This level of turnout was vital to Trump acquiring the most Electoral Votes and his election as the next president. During the 2012 presidential election, voter turnout dropped in rural counties by 18%. That is a direction Adams County and other rural counties do not want to repeat, because low turnout does not impress upon our legislators the need for rural related legislative action.

In 2016 Adams Electric Cooperative, Inc. was on top of the voter turnout issue. They rightfully impressed upon our communities that voting is extremely important and voting matters. In the words of Adams Electric’s CEO Steve Rasmussen, "Voting matters – it’s that simple! If you do not vote, the consequences mean a weaker voice; especially for rural issues." So, voting represents more than electing a president; it represents that "we the people" (rural) want to direct the destiny of our rural communities.

I like what Thomas Jefferson said about us as voters, putting the act of voting in perspective. His words were, "An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic (which we are). Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight". That being said, enthusiasm for voting is wonderful, but being an educated voter makes us even more effective and a stronger voice. This year it was refreshing to see the increased number of registered voters in Adams County. Even more refreshing was to see Adams County voting precincts with better than 72% voter turnout. That is the type of voice that we need to have continually as a rural community.

Remember, our economic drivers and community interests are far different than metropolitan areas. The interests of Adams County must be kept before our legislators for representative action. Do not allow the recent power shown by our strong vote fade; plan now to vote next year and every year. There will be local office positions on the ballot for the upcoming spring primary and the November general election.

While we are addressing the topic of elections and voting, I wish to comment on the matter of early voting. I am not a proponent of early voting because of inherent issues. The matter of holding votes in suspension until Election Day offers a security concern and added expenses to conduct early voting. Early votes are held at the risk of mishandling votes/ballots and also early voting does not allow maximum time for all issues to be fully vetted for a truly informed voter. Early voting also requires greater expenses to tax payers to fund staffing for additional days of voting. A good solution to resolve the issue of early voting is to adopt "no excuse absentee voting". This would remove numerous obstacles that could potentially interfere with a voter getting to the poll. Absentee ballots also offer a deterrent to tampering; the ballot is held inside of two sealed envelopes just prior to being counted on Election Day. Should new information about issues or candidates come to the voters before Election Day, the absentee voter can come to the poll and cancel his or her absentee ballot and vote a new ballot based upon the need to change their vote.

Absentee voting can also help detect organized efforts of voter fraud. Absentee ballots have been known to be submitted by someone other than the intended voter. This fraudulent activity can be discovered when the actual voter comes to the poll. This vote then cancels the absentee ballot that is fraudulent and can prompt the election board to validate signatures if there is a pattern of cancelled absentee ballots. This level of validation is not nearly as likely with fraudulent early voting. Given the above discussion I will support efforts to promote "no excuse absentee voting" and to negate efforts for early voting.

Maintaining the integrity of the voting process should be taken seriously and should be respected by all. In the race for the governor of North Carolina there have been reports of voter fraud. Some evidence has prompted investigations of fraud and is an indication that NC takes protecting the integrity of voting seriously. Everyone across our nation should. One little known prohibited act is using a false permanent residential address to file a voter registration. Unfortunately we have detected several such cases in Adams County which are being addressed. This is evidence of Adams County guarding the integrity of voting. In case you are wondering, our Elections and Voter Registration Office adheres to the highest standards of maintaining a wholesome registration and voting process. They deserve the highest level of respect for the outstanding job they do.

November 8th was an extremely busy election day with record numbers of voters passing through Adams County polls. Thank you voters for being very patient and respectful while waiting in long voter lines. Thank you precinct election board members for your service on a very long day. Thanks also go to various fire police who directed traffic around our busy polls. The Board of Commissioners looks forward to seeing you participating in the 2017 elections.

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