Sound Off: What you said
Last week’s question: Do you think voters pay enough attention to municipal elections? Tell us why or why not.
Yes — 15 percent
No — 85 percent
From our Facebook page:
I don’t think publications pay enough attention to municipal elections for voters to care. Try finding a voters guide in Upper Dauphin. It’s impossible.
From our LinkedIn group:
With turnout typically under 20% of registered voters, we are clearly not paying enough attention to elections in which our votes are probably most impactful - both to the election and our daily lives.
Need to adopt the Australian voter rules where if you do not vote you get fined.
I think for the most part most folks do not understand and or appreciate what local elected officials do and that by the time most decisions reach the point of public notice, the legwork behind the decision was done long before. The decision is the here and now that people are aware and form their opinions accordingly from, but, unfortunately, all the foundation work related to the decision is lost on the electorate.
Several years ago I worked as a freelance reporter covering township meetings (Board of Supervisors, zoning, etc.) for a local paper. Always amazed me how people opening a business never attended a meeting until their needs (signage, zoning restrictions, etc.) were on the agenda to be addressed. Had they attended meetings regularly they could have had a vote in shaping local ordinces. When their issues were prohibited by the zoning ordinance, they were suddenly upset. It’s the old “if you don’t vote, don’t complain about what you get”.
Local government most affects people in their daily lives. Surveys say local government is the most trusted level of government. In some ways low turnout may be a sign of voter contentment on the direction of local government. More likely it is a reflection of media attention focus on “bad news stories” and there is greater opportunity for THAT discussion in the various Capitols rather than the township and boro halls around the Commonwealth.
I think it’s two fold- most people don’t think local or off year elections are “important,” and secondly, I don’t think people are informed about the candidates, the positions they are voting on and how they directly relate to the decisions being made in their communities, children’s schools, etc. It took me 5 minutes to vote. I’m surprised more people don’t want to take 5 minutes to vote on what’s happening around them.
Although it only takes 5 minutes to do the actual voting, it takes a lot more time to actually understand who the candidates are, and what they stand for. I think people don’t vote because they don’t know anything about the candidates unless they really want to. And to sum up what Fred said, people don’t care unless it immediately affects them and what they are trying to accomplish. All people see are names on a yard sign, that’s it.
In conclusion, people don’t vote locally because the convenience of learning the candidates isn’t there.
School Districts have some of the greatest taxing authority and townships and borough regulations and zoning have incredible impact on business operations, but I doubt if most people can name their school board representative or would recognize their supervisor or council person.
People believe local voting is worthless and is a waste of time. They do not pay attention to what is going on in their districts, until it is too late.
While there are many disadvantages to the political structure in this Commonwealth, including all the duplication of services that occur because of all the various tiers of governance (and the high costs associated therewith), one of the main advantages is that government is so accessable to absolutely everyone. When local issues arise, citizens can take their concerns to local government officials and actually be heard. If sufficient numbers gather together, changes can be effected. Failure to pay attention to who is running for particular offices and subsequent poor turn-out at the poles destroys all the potential benefit this multi-tiered government represents. One need only to look at the last election to see how low we have sunk. The fact that there were so many un-contested races (candidates running on both tickets plus so many positions with only one candidate) is truly disheartening. And to see what can happen with poor turn-out and voter apathy, one need only look at the last 4 year administration in the City of Harrisburg where a totally unqualified individual was elected Mayor with the vots of aproximately 10% of the city’s population. Shame on all of us for not taking advantage of the rights our forefathers fought and died for,
I agree with you Zachariah.....but then whose responsibility is it? The political candidates’ to push their agenda on the public (which annoys people- by way of commercials and signs, etc), or is it the public’s responsibility to research who is running and what they stand for? Is it too much to expect that the public should take a few moments to watch the news/read the newspaper, read a candidate’s website, etc. and research a little bit to gain a basic understanding of who they might want to vote for?
Sabrina, it’s definitely a two-way street. Both need to put forth the effort. I think voter turn out would be better if they had voting take place for week straight. Not just one day. Online voting would be nice too.
This week’s question:
Do you have trouble finding quality candidates for jobs? Tell us why or why not.
To answer, visit www.CPBJ.com.