The city council primaries: Where did everybody go?
The Greensboro City Council election of 2005 marks the beginning of YES! Weekly’s first annual election coverage, including candidate profiles, reporting on campaign donations, breakdowns of the tight races including those in districts 2 and 4 and disclosure of questionnaires that we sent to each candidate.
For our first election we felt it was a good effort.
But after seeing the returns of the primary held on Oct. 11, we’re left feeling a bit like ones who have pissed in the wind, or maybe shouted at the sea.
Turnout at the primary, it seems, was far lower than expected.
‘“I’ve been here 17, 18 years and it’s the lowest I’ve seen in a municipal election,’” George Gilbert, Guilford County director of elections, told YES! Weekly. ‘“It basically means that all those people that didn’t vote trust us more than they used to.’”
Voter turnout was calculated at 4.3 percent, according to Gilbert ‘— the lowest so far for a municipal election this century.
In 2001 roughly 6 percent came to the polls. In 2003, when the issue of a new baseball stadium was on the ballot, voter turnout approached 20 percent.
And this year, with fairly extensive coverage by a new weekly (not to mention first-time-ever candidate forums by the editorial board at Greensboro101.com and by the League of Women Voters, and also extensive coverage in the News & Record), it seemed that voters, in the primary at least, were encouraged not to get out and vote.
What’s up with that?
There are approximately 161,000 registered voters in Greensboro. A count of the ballots cast reveals that 7,469 people came out and exercised their Constitutional right to vote. There are more people than that currently enrolled at NC A&T. There were more people than that at the Marlins game against the Grasshoppers on First Horizon Park’s opening night.
These numbers mean that if you did go out to the polls on Tuesday, your vote constituted a bloc of about 20 voters who neglected to show up.
If you’re one of the ones who didn’t vote, look around your neighborhood today and try to figure out who cast your vote. And then ask yourself if you want that person speaking for you.
Needless to say, we at YES! Weekly feel that voter turnout for the city council primaries was pretty weak.
At a time when change sweeps through Greensboro like a new wind and vocal opinions about municipal decisions are as common as the leaves falling from the trees, we can find no good reasons for the citizens of the city to stay home on a day when their voices will be heard and counted. Not even the rain.
Election day is Nov. 8. There are almost three weeks to plan. Let’s try to do better next time.