The confetti had barely settled on primary election night in the City Of Frederick when the three surviving mayoral candidates and those vying for the Board Of Alderman set their sights on November 5, when voters will decide the administrative and legislative mechanism that will run the city for the next four years. Your senses will no doubt be overrun this month with an explosion of campaigning in all its glory.
If you think there isn’t much at stake, or just that all the political noise isn’t worth the trouble, consider the many real issues facing the city in the next four years that could have a profound effect on its citizens for decades. These issues include crime, growth and perhaps the biggest bogeyman of all— a budget strained by salaries and benefits, pensions, and other employee costs that many believe is pushing the city toward its own fiscal cliff. The reverberations from how the next mayor and aldermen handle these issues—especially the fiscal matters—will be felt long after they leave office.
With so much at stake, you would think voter turnout, despite being historically low in city elections, would turn up a bit. I have to admit getting suckered into thinking turnout would be strong for the primary elections, based on the vigorous campaigning by many candidates during the summer. There seemed to be a real buzz this year.
Well, that buzz turned into a fizzle on primary Election Day, when less than 15 percent of eligible voters bothered to vote.
Think about that for a second: Of all the people in the city who are registered to vote, more than 85 percent took a pass on the primary elections. That means the primaries were decided by approximately one in seven voters.
Now, keep in mind we are only talking about eligible voters. Nationally, about one in four adults are not even registered to vote; this means in Frederick, which has about 50,000 residents ages 18 or older, there are likely thousands of potential voters that don’t even count inside the 85 percent who skipped the primary elections. Based on my calculations, this moves voter turnout from the “abysmal” category to “downright pathetic.”
We don’t endorse candidates at Frederick Magazine, but we do endorse the right to vote. If you are a city resident, pay close attention to the races, the issues and the candidates’ positions in the coming weeks. More importantly, make sure you vote on November 5. Too much is at stake to skip. Have a safe and happy October.