Just my Thoughts · Politics

Do you vote?

I live in New York state.  Here we are allowed to vote in school elections.  The only districts exempt from these laws are those known as The Big 5 – those districts in the five largest cities in the state.  I believe the Big 5 still vote for board of education members but not on budget.  These elections are for members of the board of education in the school district one lives in and a yes or no vote on the school budget.  The state regulates these elections heavily and all of them are held on the third Tuesday of May.

Last night, I spent about 20 minutes on the phone with the local newspaper’s education reporter.  The topic of discussion was voting in school elections.  In a year when elections are all the buzz, there is anticipation that turnout in these elections will increase.  Generally speaking, in the school district I live in, the election turnout does not even equal the total number of students enrolled in the school.  This number is not near the total number of eligible voters.  I believe, in my district, the average turnout is about 1,500 and the total number of eligible voters is 15,000.  This is well below the turnout for municipal, state or federal elections.

The lack of turnout may be a good thing.  The beginning of May brought about a budget hearing for my district.  Someone spends a lot of time putting together information to present to the public regarding the budget that is about to be voted on later in the month.  The state requires that each district hold a hearing.  At this particular hearing, in attendance were four school district employees – all administrative or district office employees, two Board of Education members – including one who is running for re-election and approximately six people.  Questions were asked but not many.

My point is that we have very few elections where our vote is a true impact.  Please educate yourself and get out on May 20th and vote!!

One thought on “Do you vote?

  1. Oh yeah, Nicki, I vote. And, I will break my neck to get to the polls for a local election.

    You are so right, these are the votes that have real and immediate impact.

    Lack of interest in local politics is one of my pet peeves. Here in May-Berryville, our good-ol-boy Mayor stepped down after 20 years. One of his cronies from the Town Council stepped up to what he thought would be an uncontested race. He was surprised by a bid from my neighbor, who carried a promise of change and service.

    Unfortunately, she underestimated the power of the good-ol-boy network, and the mouth service paid by citizens tired of the continual same-o same-o.

    In a town of 3500, we have nearly 2500 registered voters. Not bad. However, on Tuesday, only 501 people turned out at the polls. That’s a 20% turnout. Election officials were pleased. The average for local elections? Less than 10%

    Me? I think it is a disgrace.

    Last fall, in a hotly contested county election, where the majority of the school board and the county board of supervisors were up for re-election. County population? 12,000. Number of registered voters? 9000. Turnout? 4600.

    That’s better, but that was also our Presidential Primary. Would the good citizens have made that type of effort if it had simply been a local election? i’m guessing not.

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