Rule by the few in City Politics
Where were you on September 10, 2019? Or the entire month leading up to it?
If you were like the vast majority of eligible Toledo and Maumee voters, one place you never set foot in was a voting booth.
In case you are one of the tens of thousands who didn’t notice, there was a primary election on September 10th. That primary election determined which of the candidates for Toledo and Maumee City Councils will appear on the November ballot in the general election.
Ruling by 5.7%
Yet only five point seven per cent of registered voters in Lucas County who could have voted bothered to take the fifteen or so minutes and cast a ballot. It was worse in some areas than others. In Toledo District 3, for example, a scant six hundred thirty five lonely souls wandered into the polling places and cast a vote.
In Toledo District One, only twelve votes separated second place finisher Shaun Strong, who will go on to the general election, and Marsha Hill, who will not. In Maumee, a mere thirty four votes separated the last candidate to clear the primary and the first candidate shut out.
Every vote mattered. Considering that large numbers of those eligible aren’t even registered in the first place, this meager turnout ensured that the electoral decision was made by a distinct minority.
This rule by the few is certainly not what the framers had in mind for a functioning American democracy. What gives? Why do so few exercise their right to determine who will represent them in City Politics?
Do folks believe their vote doesn’t matter? Given the closeness of some of the races, that certainly is not the case. And since thousands of eligible voters stayed home, even a small number, had they mustered the urge to vote, could have changed the outcome in every race. Yet they chose instead not to.
Do folks not pay enough attention to local politics to notice that an election has come and gone? Given the oxygen sucked out of the room by the bombast of national politics, it would seem normal that folks would forget that all politics is local. Most of the media contributes to this problem, spending much larger swaths of coverage on national politics than on local races.
Are folks not aware when Election Day is here? Maybe folks want to vote, but don’t know when. Perhaps local media could do a better job of advertising when it’s time to vote. Or the Board of Elections could implement a voter education campaign.
Are voters too jaded by the state of national politics to engage in local politics? Has the partisan gridlock at the top made folks turn away at the local level?
Maybe the failure of voting technology to keep up with the times is to blame. In twenty nineteen you can do all your banking, pay all your bills, do all your shopping, order meals, and basically live most of your life on-line twenty-four seven three sixty five. You can engage in some of your most confidential and closely guarded transactions online. Yet you still have to go to a specified location at specified times to cast a vote.
The anachronistic mechanics of registering to vote and voting, coupled with the lack of education on where, when, how, and why to vote could certainly explain why the vast majority just plain don’t bother. Add in the cynicism engendered by the bloviating elected buffoons yakking it up on the nightly news, and we’re left with a withered, wheezing rule by the few who bother.
What say y’all? If you voted, why did you do so? If you didn’t, what caused the failure? And if you’re not registered, what’s up with that? Inquiring minds want to know.