Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mixed Messages From the Voters

The recent Democratic Primary in Montgomery County demonstrated an example of an uninvolved public.  With voter turnout here demonstrating the lowest percentage in more than 40 years, Maryland Democrats must be concerned about the November election. 

Questions that must be asked now are:
•    Is the low turnout due to public apathy?
•    Did the economic picture in the county keep the voters home?
•    Did the lack of a top of the ballot contested race--such as the Spirited County Exec race in 2006, keep turnout low?
•    Did the huge mail volume and robo-calls turn off voters?
•    What role can county union members claim in the final council and legislative results?
•    How did the early voting opportunity influence the final numbers?

Welcome to the initial blog post from Politics Plus...

My take on these issues must be colored by my recent failed race for a council seat in Upcounty District 2 where I came in third out of five candidates.  That said, I will do my best to be objective in this and future musing about county issues.

As I walked neighborhoods and knocked on doors, I found some voters focused on the upcoming elections, but to most it was a far off event.  Despite an avalanche of mail and a sight pollution of signs, many voters were uncertain about when and where the elections would be.  I have heard others say that this is often the case with September contests.  In Maryland, primaries are held in September in the non-Presidential years and in either February or March in Presidential election years, so it is no wonder that the voters come back from summer vacations focused on everything except elections.  After all, in September, there is a new school year just starting and many older voting age students are going off to college.  The major religious season of Ramadan ended the weekend before the Primary and major Jewish holidays were before and after the scheduled voting day.  For Federal workers the end of the budget year was at hand, causing many to work longer hours.

The council completed the budget hearings and passed the budget back before the summer started, so many of the campaign events and debates we saw during the summer, were missed by traveling families.  The County Fair forbade candidate stickers this year which decreased some of the more outright politicking usually seen at the Fair, so candidates were trying many venues in order to be seen.  

So what should the various candidates do in order to get their messages across?  Just what is the responsibility of the voters about being well informed?  Do you as a voter peruse the Voter guides published in the Post or put out by the League of Women Voters?  Do you allow endorsements from the Post, the Gazette or the Apple Ballots to choose your candidates for you?  How many of you attended any of the Council or Legislative debates or watched the discussions on County Cable TV?  Did you attend a coffee or a fund raiser for any candidates? 

I am curious to know how the informed voter gets their information – so please tell me in your response here.  Use the comment feature below to provide comments.  Thank you.

4 comments:

  1. I like the blog. Yes, let's hope everyone goes out and votes as we need some changes in this county and state.

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  2. AnneinSilver SpringOctober 16, 2010 at 8:07 PM

    Answering the question about deciding who to vote for: For candidates already in office, I consider their voting record, their efforts on behalf of a sustainable Montgomery County, and their accessibility to citizens. For challengers, I gather my data at the candidate forums. I take endorsements by the Post and Gazette with many grains of salt. Sierra Club endorsements carry more weight.

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  3. For many voters- it does not matter who wins.
    The voters know that what ever candidate wins- nothing will change.
    It will be the same arguments among the elected officials, raise taxes, lower taxes, do this or do that and in the end little gets done.
    There might be a few minor bills passed, but overall the individual voter finds that nothing affects them.
    They are disappointed- one can walk into the voting booth close their eyes and vote- it makes no difference.

    Bob Fustero

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  4. Getting information is hard in Montgomery County. There is limited local coverage of issues. We are so dominated by the national news.

    For example, at the McKenney Hills school site MCPS is planning on removing about a half an acre of trees. Are older Silver Spring neighborhoods something that should be protected or is this clearing of old forest acceptable?

    It would be good to see a robust discussion of this issue in the news media.

    ReplyDelete

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