Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Letter to Editor 29 November 2009

Letter to editor concerning voter turnout

To The Editor
The Times-Journal

Last week’s T-J editorial included notice of local election contests which were decided by slim margins and an invitation to those who didn’t vote this year to take part next November. The editorial emphasized how important one vote can be in deciding a contest.

I share the editor’s sentiments concerning voting responsibilities and do also encourage greater citizen participation in elections, however, such annual lamentations are not likely to improve matters much. More attention by local government, election administrators and the media will be needed to solve the low voter participation problem.

The Peacemakers Voting Integrity Project has been attempting to address these issues. Last year we requested to meet with the Election Commissioners to discuss the creation of a Citizen Advisory Board for Election Administration. We had hoped such an advisory board could be of assistance to both the Board of Elections and the Board of supervisors. The Commissioners refused to meet with us and the Supervisors did not carry the issue forward.

This past June The Voting Integrity Project released an analysis* of voter registration and voter turnout statistics for several upstate counties including Schoharie County. The numbers are troubling: One in four eligible Schoharie citizens is not registered to vote. Factor in low turnout percentages and contests or propositions can be decided by a minority of the citizens. As of this writing there has been no announcement of Board of Elections or Board of Supervisors action on this problem.

Members of the Voting Integrity Project were present at the Board of Supervisors meeting this month. Our purpose was to announce initiation of a survey of county Boards of Elections administration practices, resources and accessibility. We asked the Board of Supervisors to assure us that the Schoharie County Board of Elections will respond to the survey. We did not receive any such assurances from the Supervisors but remain hopeful the Election Commissioners will return the survey.

This small group of citizen volunteers is doing their part to make democracy work. We need government and the media to do their part if we are to succeed.

Wayne Stinson, Coordinator
The Voting Integrity Project

Analysis of Voter Registration Performance (http://paperballotwarrior.blogspot.com)
The Voting Integrity Project, 30 June 2009.