We did it again, and the people have spoken.
We elected general election candidates Tuesday — and some new officeholders in uncontested races — in Hamilton County.
We did it, but with pathetically low voter turnout numbers.
In unofficial results, voter turnout was 10.6 percent of our county's 192,662 registered voters.
All told, just 20,498 people, roughly a full house seated in Finley Stadium — nominated or elected our next county leaders this week. If you think that's frightening, consider this: In a county with a July 2017 estimated population of 361,613 people, only about two thirds of voting-age residents are registered to vote.
Longtime Hamilton County District 5 Commissioner Greg Beck was tumbled by political newcomer Katherlyn Geter by a mere 15 votes. Repeat, 15 votes. Meanwhile District 8 Commissioner Tim Boyd handily fended off a challenge from East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert — despite controversy and criminal charges. Even with all that drama, fewer than 2,000 voters cast a ballot in the race.
COMMISSION, DIST. 1
Steve F. Coker 351
› Randy Fairbanks* 1,117
COMMISSION, DIST. 4
› Warren Mackey* 894
Kelvin Scott 354
COMMISSION, DIST. 5
Greg Beck* 1,226
› Katherlyn Geter 1,241
COMMISSION, DIST. 8
› Tim Boyd* 1,203
Brent Lambert 714
› Winner *Incumbent
Note: All results are unofficial until certified by the Hamilton County Election Commission
Elsewhere, District 1 Commissioner Randy Fairbanks easily defeated political newcomer Steve Coker. And District 4 Commissioner Warren Mackey defeated Democratic challenger Kelvin Scott. We have a new Circuit judge: Haslam appointee Kyle Hedrick, who held the job for just a few months before fending off challenger Catherine "Cate" White.
We'll do it again in August — vote to decide in the county general election those races with partisan opposition — like Mackey's upcoming race with independent Chris Dahl, and the race between outgoing state Rep. Marc Gravitt, the GOP primary winner for Register of Deeds, and Democrat and longtime Deeds office worker Vickie Schroyer.
August also will decide the District 2 County Commission race between Republican Chip Baker and political newcomer, Democrat Elizabeth Baker, who are not related. The general election, too, will decide the Hamilton County mayoral race between Republican incumbent Jim Coppinger and Democratic challenger Aloyse Brown, as well as the Hamilton County sheriff's race between GOP incumbent Jim Hammond and Democratic challenger Victor Miller, a Chattanooga Police Department Homicide Unit supervisor.
We must do more, however, than just hope that we can muster more voting interest between now and then. We also must register more voters. The registration deadline to vote in the Aug. 2 election is July 3.
Late last year, The Nashville Tennessean reported that Tennessee ranks 40th in the nation in voter registration and last — last — in voter turnout.
By our size, the Volunteer State should be 17th in voter registration, yet nearly a million adult Tennesseans are not registered to vote.
Tennessee, last summer, became the 36th state to roll out online voter registration, an update some hope will encourage millennials and other voters who might be more inclined to click a link and fill out an online form. You can find that online registration application at https://ovr.govote.tn.gov.
On Tuesday's election day, the people spoke — and spoke well.
In August, and again in the November mid-term elections, we hope and encourage many, many more people to speak — with their votes.