It was another putrid election day in Champaign County, one marked more by voter indifference than anything else. Voting is sacred. All must be encouraged to participate in the democratic process. Anything short of that sacred goal is voter suppression that must, itself, be suppressed. That has to be bunk. If it wasn’t, last week’s
It was another putrid election day in Champaign County, one marked more by voter indifference than anything else.
Voting is sacred. All must be encouraged to participate in the democratic process. Anything short of that sacred goal is voter suppression that must, itself, be suppressed.
That has to be bunk. If it wasn’t, last week’s non-election would never have happened. But it did, and the low turnout reflected the rule, not the exception, which raises a question.
Why does this state schedule elections when those in charge know there will be pathetic turnouts?
Well, they just do. Besides, shut up.
The numbers don’t lie. The Champaign County Clerk’s Office reports that of roughly 122,000 eligible voters in the county, only about 15,000 cast ballots in Tuesday’s municipal, park and school board elections.
Contrast that to the turnout in November’s presidential election, when more than 80,000 county residents cast ballots.
Obviously, federal and state elections are much higher-profile than a local race for mayor or city council. The public, naturally, pays much more attention to them than to other contests for a variety of reasons.
But considering that local races matter, too, look at some of the results from Tuesday’s city council races in Champaign-Urbana.
Congratulations to Davion Williams on his election to the council from District 1 in Champaign. But he ought not to kid himself about being the people’s choice, because he received all of 111 votes, according to the unofficial returns.
Compared to Williams, District 3 winner Danny Iniguez is a veritable man of the people. He received 280 votes compared with runner-up Matt Sullard’s 225.
In Urbana, Democrat Christopher Evans was elected alderman for Ward 2 with 67 votes.
Other contests, of course, drew larger turnouts because they covered larger geographic areas. But in the overall context, turnout was still minuscule.
It is, of course, not the candidates’ fault that they ran into a wall of indifference. They invested their time and energy in running, a challenge that never should be minimized.
They must wonder why the public cares so little about what they consider so important.
Many, of course, will be tempted to express disdain for those who have shown they have virtually no interest in how and who runs their city governments, schools and parks.
But respect for process of self-government ought to require more than a thumb in the eye of the disinterested.
If Champaign County voters can elect their county board members in primary and general elections in even years, why can’t they elect their city council and school board members in those same elections?
What is so special about these off-year elections that they must be held at times that have shown themselves to be an undeniable failure?
The permanent political class must have a special motive for overseeing this gross disservice to the public. In a state as corrupt as Illinois, there’s usually a selfish reason for consistently embracing a moronic public policy like this.
It’s well past time for a change — align the primary and general municipal elections now held in off-years with the primary and general elections held in even years.
The insiders would hate it and vehemently oppose it. But if voting really is as important as adherents argue, why not schedule most, if not all, the state’s elections at a time that will draw the broadest participation?