I can’t say I’m surprised in any way with the turnout for this latest election – only 26.8 percent. I’m not surprised – turnout has been disappointing here in past – but I’m pretty confounded. Why would so many people go to the trouble to register to vote, but not turn in a ballot?
I myself actually under-voted – left some offices blank because none of the candidates listed seemed good for the job. I also voted for a couple of candidates without really caring whether they won or not – I just wanted to send a message to certain incumbents that I don’t like the job they’re doing. In a couple of races, I tried to vote for the candidate most likely to beat the incumbent – I really want Kamala Harris out of the Attorney General position, she’s a fascist bitch. But good luck – I predict she will only leave that post to become Governor, Goddess help us.
I might not always be happy with my votes, I don’t find myself backing a winner very often, but I vote no matter what. That’s why I registered for an “absentee ballot” – I don’t want to take a chance that an illness or other emergency would keep me from voting.
Since I got my first absentee ballot, I realized, this is the way it should be. Polling places are dumb. I’ve lived right across the street from my polling place, and it was still a pain in the ass – where do you think the people park all day who don’t live right across the street? And several times, the workers tried to tell my husband or I we weren’t registered – one time, my husband looked down and found his name on the page right above the woman’s finger. Another time they tried to close our polling place at 7:45 on a night when my husband had been working in Quincy all day and sped home to get to the polls – they tried to shove him out and close the door with 15 minutes left til polls closed, he literally had to push their hands off of himself and demand to be allowed to vote. I’ll never forget when Candace Grubbs closed a bunch of polling stations because the students were out of town – but didn’t tell anybody about the change. A friend of ours who’d been voting at the same precinct for over 10 years showed up at the door to find nobody home, and ended up turning in a provincial ballot at our neighborhood station. My husband had to inform the women running the station that our friend had the right to a provincial ballot, they weren’t going to give it to him.
When the clerk’s office announced they were way short of polling station workers, I again wondered, why don’t they go on some sort of campaign to get more people to vote “absentee,” and then do something about reminding them to turn their ballots in on time. How about some well-placed billboards, “VOTE!” with important dates and a phone number?
A June 4 story in the Enterprise Record quotes Candace Grubbs as saying she was surprised with the low turnout – “I thought we’d be up to 45 percent.” That is roughly the figure for turnout in the 2010 and 2012 primaries. I don’t remember who was up then, or what the issues were, but I’d say, this election was pretty dismal. The governor’s race was almost a no-show, with all these no-name nobodies going up against the Star Power of the Moonbeam – not to mention, that guy started raising bundles of quatloos over a year before the election. Because of this anomaly, I’ve heard predictions that voter turn-out would be down since March – isn’t that something that the elections office should be studying? She doesn’t seem to feel she has any responsibility here, she’s just the piano player.
But we can’t put it all on the clerk. I think low turn-out tells us, people don’t know/don’t care about local government, that’s a conclusion I’ve come to over the last few years of trying to get people to pay more attention. It’s hard to have a Democracy when most of the public either doesn’t participate or just does a miserable half-assed job. People don’t bother to inform themselves, they vote on name recognition, or worse, names that sound good! They vote for people who look like them, have a similar last name, wear the same clothes, or use the right catch-phrases. They vote the way their friends and co-workers vote, or they vote for a person who was nice to them at a campaign event. I’ll give you $5 if you can find 5 people coming out of a polling place that know what was on the agenda for their last city council meeting.
For years now, I’ve been trying to get more people to pay attention to the issues Downtown, as well as at the county level, and you know, I notice more people all the time are starting to tune in. I get people who contact me to ask about stuff they’ve been looking into, wanting to network for information, and that is so thrilling to me. That’s why I want to continue the forums after this brief break. I notice, people want to talk about the issues, they need encouragement instead of being made to fill out a speaker card and given three minutes to blow their flap to deaf ears. So, let’s take a break to enjoy Summer, and then let’s get the forum up and running again.
I’d like to thank all the candidates that came in to support our forum, congratulate those who made it through the primary, and those who didn’t – thanks for running. Thank you for doing your part to support Democracy.
I’d also like to thank those of you who came to the meetings with your questions – I’ll keep you on the mailing list, see ya later Alligator.