If you don’t vote, this post is directed right at you. Last election, you were either too busy doing something you thought was more important, too lazy or you made the conscious decision that it wouldn’t make any difference. Maybe you didn’t like any of the candidates who were running, so why bother? Whatever your reason, you were a no show.
The last Mayoral primary was in 2011. The table to the right is from the Maryland Board of Elections and shows how the 74,460 people who did show up voted. While 74,460 is a large number, it’s only 25.49% of the city’s 292,059 registered Democrats who were eligible to vote in 2011.
To be clear, approximately 75% of the voters, yourself included, allowed just 25% of the voters to pick their next Mayor. The turnout rates for City Council varied, but were also very low.
And so it was decided to move the Mayoral primary to the Presidential election cycle. The Mayor and Council Members were all given one-time-only 5 year terms so that their next election would be in 2016 as part of the Presidential primary. The thought was that all the hullabaloo that surrounds a Presidential election would encourage more people to vote. Good idea? That depends…
The last Presidential Primary was in 2012. As you can see in the table below, 42,371 Democratic votes were cast for the position of President. That’s only 14.79% of the 291,991 registered Democrats who were eligible to vote – and that’s pretty much the way it was throughout the entire ballot. Round numbers, 85% of registered Democrats opted not to show up, deferring to just 15% of their cohorts – not just for the position of President which was uncontested, but for everyone and everything else on the ballot that year.
The “So what?” is that there is a high likelihood that next April’s Presidential Primary will also be uncontested. Secretary Clinton will have opponents, but she may have a commanding lead in the polls, in Maryland and around the county – so commanding that voters can be pretty sure she’ll be the Democratic nominee, whether or not they vote for her.
The Mayor’s race, on the other hand, will be hotly contested, as it was in 2011. So we’re guessing that turnout at next April’s primary will between 15% and 25%.
And so the question is, given all that’s wrong with Baltimore and that you live here, do you really want to defer to a minority of just 15% to 25% to pick someone whose competence or incompetence will have direct and material bearing on your personal income and welfare? And if have kids too young to vote, do you really trust those 15% to 25% to vote in your children’s best interests?
Remember, in Baltimore you don’t even need a majority of the votes to win. There’s no run off election if no one receives a majority of the votes. All you need to win is more votes than anyone else. Depending upon the number of candidates running and their popularity, a given candidate could become Mayor with only, let’s say, 30% of the vote. That’s 30% of the 25% who voted, so only 7.5% of the registered voters just elected the person who is going to be the Mayor of 100% of the city. And who knows why that 7.5% voted for that particular candidate?
“I know turnout sucks, but what difference…”
Excuse me. You’re not seriously going to make the “I’m only one vote” argument, are you?
“Well, I may have been thinking about it.”
In fact, thousands of people are reading this post. Thousands of people like you. Round numbers, there are 300,000 registered Democrats in Baltimore, 225,000 or more of which aren’t going to vote unless Baltimore Rising and other like-minded organizations and people – like you? – do something about it.
Baltimore Rising believes in Democracy and in majority rule. We believe that the more people who vote, the more people who stand up and voice their opinion, even if it’s to choose the least undesirable candidate – the better the result. We believe that showing up is important. …No, wait. It’s more than important. It’s essential.
We’re going to be sending thousands of reluctant voters like you an application for an absentee ballot – and we’re going to be pushing for online voting beginning as soon as possible. In the meantime, would you please take the time next April, show up and vote your convictions, whatever they may be?
So, are you in this, or out of it? If you’re in, please take the time to leave us your name and email address which we promise not to abuse – and perhaps make a small contribution to support our objectives. And tell your friends to vote too.
Feel free to leave a comment if you have something to say.
Thanks. And welcome to Baltimore Rising.