Thomas Jefferson once said, “We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”

When it comes to primary runoffs, Jefferson’s sentiment could not be more true.

Historically, turnout for runoff elections is low. In 2018, the combined voter turn out in Victoria County was 10.8%, up from just 4.4% in 2016, according to records from the Victoria County Elections Administration.

A small fraction of our community should not be the only ones chiming in on who deserves to hold positions that affect all of us, which is why this year’s primary runoffs deserve the attention of each and every voter.

Early voting started Monday for the July 14 primary runoff elections. Now is the time to make your voice heard.

Victoria County voters will determine the Republican nominees for county sheriff and tax assessor/collector, according to the sample ballot.

In the Democratic runoff, voters will determine their candidate for U.S. Senate and the party’s nominee for state railroad commission.

Margetta Hill, Victoria County’s election administrator, said she is expecting runoff turn out to be “relatively good” this year because of interest in the local Republican races.

As of Monday afternoon, 514 people had already voted in person and 2,700 residents had returned mail-in ballots. Those are high numbers compared to previous primary runoffs, she said.

But over all turn out is hard to predict, and the delay of elections due to the pandemic could affect voter participation.

According to FairVote, the longer the wait between the initial primary and the runoff, the higher the decrease in voter turnout between elections.

We urge our community to not let that happen.

As voters, we don’t have an excuse for not making the time to educate ourselves and get to the polls. Voting is both a civil duty and privilege, not a mere optional chore.

Amid a pandemic and polarized political climate, we also all have something to say.

This is our opportunity to turn words into action.

This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate’s editorial board.

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