Back to Basics

It’s our most basic civic duty. Here in the Old Dominion, we have an opportunity to fulfill it every year. In fact, next month many Virginians will have their next chance to do so. How? By voting on June 11.

May 2019

Richard G. Johnstone Jr., Executive Editor

W e live in an anxious age. We may lack sleep, but we surely don’t lack information.

The blogosphere has become a virtual universe, constantly expanding, constantly birthing new stars, twinkling megabytes and gigabytes of data from across the political spectrum. The true and the false, the important and the trivial, all populate this digital night sky.

In such a sky, awash with seemingly infinite bits and bytes of information, finding our North Star is daunting. Where is the information we need to make informed decisions? Which sources are reliable? How do we tell wheat from chaff?

These are questions harder than ever to answer, pursuits harder than ever to complete. Yet they’re pursuits more critical than ever to our continued success as a nation.

After all, our own Mr. Jefferson cautioned us that “the cornerstone of democracy rests on the foundation of an educated electorate.”

And so, despite today’s political gridlock and media overload — or more importantly, because of them — it’s essential that we be, or become, an educated electorate. And that we fulfill that most basic of civic duties: voting.

Many Virginians will have an opportunity to go to the polls next month. On June 11, they’ll be voting in primaries to select candidates to run in this fall’s general election. The results of the June 11 primaries will be important to your future, to our future. And calling primaries important is neither hype nor hyperbole. In truth, every election for public office — whether primary or general — is an important election.

Virginia is an open primary state, meaning no one registers by party affiliation. In districts holding a primary election, registered voters may go to the polls on June 11 or vote by absentee ballot in advance. Whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat or an Independent, you may vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary, but not in both.

On the ballot will be candidates seeking their party’s nomination for the House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia. At press time, there were 49 candidates on the ballot in 20 House districts, and 38 candidates in 15 Senate districts, all hoping to be their party’s nominee.

In addition, the June 11 primaries will also include candidates pursuing their party’s nomination for local offices like Board of Supervisors, Commonwealth’s Attorney, Treasurer and Sheriff.

There will be primaries from the Cumberland Gap to the Eastern Shore, and from Southside Virginia to the southern banks of the Potomac. Since some districts opt for a convention or caucus to select their nominees, be sure to check first with local election officials. You’ll find more information at elections.virginia.gov or vpap.org.

As political pundits have noted many times over many years, Virginia is renowned as a haven for lovers. Lovers of all manner of good things. Yes, including politics. As anyone who’s been here for even a couple of years has likely noticed, there always seems to be an election going on in Virginia.

And that’s because there is. Every year. We hold federal elections in even years, state and local elections in odd ones.

But no matter the level of government, public officials elected today in Virginia face a full menu of challenges: state and local taxes, infrastructure needs, rural broadband, urban and suburban sprawl, gang crime, school crowding, revitalizing rural areas and small towns, the future of family farms, rising health care costs, care for the elderly and those with mental health issues, the need for more hospitals, higher education costs … and so it goes, and on it goes.

These issues face us at a time when it’s increasingly difficult to find servant-leaders willing to run for public office … and at times willing to remain there. Today’s candidates navigate mazes their forebears never knew, from rapidly escalating campaign costs to the unyielding glare of the social media spotlight.

So, on June 11, we hope you’ll exercise your right to vote, and help select the best possible candidates to run for these important offices during these challenging times. You’ll become part of that firm foundation supporting the cornerstone of our democracy.