EDITORIAL: The myth and reality of the 2018 election

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Here in the newsroom, we talk about elections all year long. We started handicapping this week’s primary election months ago, before filing had even begun: picking out contested races, identifying likely candidates, sorting through the redistricting mess.

We know it’s not like that out in the world. Politics has its seasons for the regular folk — truthfully, the ones for whom we do all this preparation and research — and we understand that primaries will never get the attention that a general election will muster, no matter how much we stress their importance.

When it came time for action, almost 90 percent of the people who have signed up to participate in these things decided to stay home.

In this week’s election, Guilford County chose a new district attorney, Avery Crump, a former judge who bested her fellow Democrat Stephanie Reese by about 7 points, or 2,000 votes. And while it’s remarkable that Guilford County has a black, female district attorney taking office in January — a pretty big deal — we can still be outraged that fewer than 18,000 people in a county of half a million chose the top prosecutor.

The DA election was settled on Tuesday because no Republican filed to run. Democrats in Forsyth County Commission District A turned out Everette Witherspoon on a margin of only 131 votes. And while it was already a given that the school board will have two new members from District 1, Democratic voters selected them in this primary.

Even more races that won’t matter in the fall because of our gerrymandered districts. Our electoral system in North Carolina is not quite a farce, but it’s pretty close.

Just 11.3 percent of the electorate voted in Guilford County, 41,244 ballots cast out of 365,351 registered voters. Forsyth, with 11.5 percent of the electorate participating this week, didn’t fare much better. Both counties dragged down statewide participation in the primary, clocked at 14.25 percent.

We need to do better.

Reminder: This is a midterm election, the one chance that regular folks have to check in with the wheels of government and voice their approval or support. Never has our country been so politically polarized, seen such passion on either side of the aisle. It’s all anybody talks about these days.

But when it came time for action, almost 90 percent of the people who have signed up to participate in these things decided to stay home.

We’ll get one more chance in November to keep up our end of the deal — at least, in those races that have not already been determined.

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