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Early Voting numbers indicate low city turnout
Thursday, May 7, 2009 by Michael Mmay
The early voting numbers are in, and, unless there’s a huge turnout on Election Day, it seems likely that fewer voters will make it to the polls than have in the past two City Council elections.
And here’s why. Around 30,000 voters have gone to the polls in
So, if that proves true, it’s likely that fewer than 50,000
Littlefield has broken the numbers down demographically: twenty-two percent of early voters are voting in their first city election; thirty-three percent are over 65; and men and women are voting in almost equal numbers.
Peck Young, the director of the Center for Public Policy and Political Studies at
If you look at voter turnout over time, it seems that
The law has succeeded in keeping rich donors from controlling the process, but it’s also made it harder for candidates to get the word out. “The ordinance is anti-democratic,” says Young. “It’s suppressed the candidates’ ability to express their differences. For most voters, the campaigns don’t even exist.”
For example, candidates used to have several ads on TV. The first one would be the kind of fuzzy, warm ads that we tend to see now, but the campaigns would eventually go negative, painting sharp contrasts with each other. Now, candidates only run one ad, and it’s usually a soft one. Carole Keeton Strayhorn is the only candidate whose ad really aims to differentiate herself from her opponents.
Young points to the current mayoral campaign. “The differences between the candidates are subtle,” he says. “The differences are real, but it’s not black and white. You need to spend a lot of money to show the differences. Right now, most people know there are two male council members running for mayor, and one female who is not an incumbent. So it’s girls vs. boys and outsider vs. incumbent. That’s the campaign in a nutshell. Without a clash of ideas, it’s boring.”
Young says that the low turnout is likely to hurt Place 1 candidate Perla Cavazos, because her base is Hispanic voters, and they already tend to vote in lower numbers. As for the Mayor’s race, he thought that one of the three candidates could really use a get-out-the-vote effort to their advantage in a low-turnout election, but said the campaigns need more money to do that right.
Colin Rowan from Brewster McCracken’s campaign said they have not hired people to knock on doors, but they are doing active phone banking and have plans to ID McCracken voters in a runoff. He said they have spent more on media, because it’s not like “25 years ago when you could have bought time on three stations and been done with that.”
Leffingwell has been investing in a field operation, according to Mark Nathan from Lee Leffingwell’s campaign. “We’ve been knocking on doors all over
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