Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 17, 2012

Forum: Be sure your vote counts

By Inara Kurt"All politics is local."

---- — On Aug. 7, this phrase certainly applies. Most county and township races are going to be decided in the primary election. And we (that is all of us voters) will be selecting the only person who will be on the November ballot for clerk, treasurer, supervisor, commissioner, trustee, and on and on. This year we will need to make our vote count in August because only one party has candidates for some important county and township offices.

America is a democracy. That means we depend on our citizens to select the people who will represent us in our government. This year, you might be thinking of the general election — with the President of the United States on the ballot — as critical. However, on the local level those people on the primary ballot will be making the decisions on local issues that affect you. You will want to select the right person to represent you. Aug. 7 is a date to mark on your calendar to get to the polls because November will be too late for a majority of the local offices.

President Lyndon Johnson said "The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men." Michigan has a history of crucial primary elections that are decided by razor-thin margins.

For example, Republican Congressperson Dan Benishek won the August 2010 Republican primary, running against Jason Allen, Patrick Donlon, Linda Goldthorpe, Don Hooper and Tom Stillings. Initially, Benishek and Allen finished only one vote apart: Benishek 27,091 Allen 27,090.

The state Board of Canvassers certified the final results, giving Benishek a 15-vote lead with Benishek getting 27,077 votes and Allen 27,062 votes. Benishek went on to win the November 2010 general election.

In addition, in the 1964 Second Congressional District Democratic primary, Wes Vivian won by a vote of 8,696 to 8,624. Vivian went on in the November general election to beat seven-term incumbent Congressperson George Meader by a vote of 77,806 to 76,280.

That means that every vote counts. You don't want to hear the results of the Aug. 7 primary and find out that your candidate could have won except for the fact that you did not bother to go to the polls.

Check out a sample ballot from your county clerk or go to the league on-line voter guide at See why The League of Women Voters-Grand Traverse Area is urging you to cast your vote on August 7. The League of Women Voters is where hands-on work to safeguard democracy leads to civic improvement.

About the author: Inara Kurt is on the Board of Directors of the League of Women Voters-Grand Traverse Area and the current Voter Services Chair; on the web at:

About the forum: The forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of interest or expertise. Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by emailing Please include biographical information and a photo.