Not every election that is important is held in November of each year. There are many local races for public office and referendums that are voted on in out-of-cycle elections. There is a growing concern that out-of-cycle elections ultimately suppress the vote. Cases in point are two elections being held in May 2013. One is in Sarasota, Florida and the other in Los Angeles, California.
PRNewswire reports, “Entravision Communications Corporation (NYSE: EVC), a diversified Spanish-language media company, today announced a multi-platform campaign to encourage Los Angeles Latino voters to participate in the upcoming runoff election for Mayor, being held May 21, 2013. With only 16% of registered voters turning out for the Primary Nominating Election that was held in March, Entravision is committed to using its radio and digital assets in Los Angeles to raise awareness of the upcoming election and instill the importance of participating in the democratic election process.” [My emphasis]
Sarasota Today, in an Editorial titled “Why I vote (even though I am apathetic)“, notes, “Ap·a·thy. lack of interest of concern. P·a·rty. a large group of people. This is the reason some people believe causes such a low turnout in our City Elections (which are held in March and May). Apathy is what takes us from a 75% voter turnout in November to a 17% voter turnout four months later in March. Although I disagree with the premise, I am going to accept that this must be true (mostly because I am sick of fighting about it – and I just want to find a solution).” [My emphasis]
It appears citizens from Sarasota to Los Angeles are taking an interest.
“At Entravision, we believe that the Los Angeles Mayoral election is extremely important to the future of the city. As an active member of the community, it is our civic duty to encourage as many citizens as possible to exercise their right to vote,” said Walter F. Ulloa, Entravision’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “With this election being only the third time in the last 75 years that an incumbent mayoral candidate has not been on the ballot in Los Angeles, this election offers a unique opportunity for citizens to vote with their voice and help shape the future for the city. By leveraging Entravision’s multiple media properties in Los Angeles, we will provide a valuable service to the community and help encourage voter participation for this special election.”
Sarasota Today coined the phrase “Apathy Party”. The Sarasota Today editorial analyzes the impact of the Apathy Party:
So here is my attempt at giving specific examples of why you (assuming you don’t vote) should consider leaving the Apathy Party.
Reason 1: You are more likely to lose your job due a decision made by a City Commission, than by the President of the United States.
Here is my reasoning. If you are young and live in Sarasota most likely you are in the “service” industry. You probably work in hospitality, retail or the restaurant business. All three of these industries (which are the largest in the City) depend HEAVILY on tourism. So, if the City Commission votes to install parking meters or by chance bans live music – then the tourists will probably not come downtown anymore. So when tourists leave, revenue leaves – and businesses suffer. When business suffers – people lose jobs. The City Commission makes decisions each month that effect local businesses short term and long term. If you think voting in the national elections will change your life – you should really pay attention to local elections.
City makes “anti-business” decisions = Businesses fail = Jobs Lost = Bad Tourism Experience = Bad Economy.
City makes “smart business” decisions = Businesses grow = More Jobs = Good Tourism Experience = Healthy and Diverse Economy
Reason 2: Your wallet will be more effected by the policies supported by the City, than by the Federal Government.
I always hear that people “vote with their wallet”. If that is true, than you definitely want to reconsider voting in local elections. Everyone’s income has taken a hit due to a horrible economy. Although things are improving, we still need to find ways to save money month-to-month. Tax Loop Holes don’t help anyone except big corporations. So how does the local government help us save money? Let’s start with the big one – rent. If you are like most people, rent is your biggest expense (or if you are a home owner – you property taxes and loan payment). The City of Sarasota has had a “no-growth” policy that has back-fired on our economy and it is lowering property values and raising taxes – and thus it is making your rent higher. For example, our zoning code only allows a developer to build 50 units per acre for a 10-story building. If you do the math – you can quickly see that these are BIG EXPENSIVE units – which means BIG rent. These restrictions are everywhere throughout the city – even in deprived neighborhoods like Rosemary District. Since it is close to impossible to build a 10-story building with 50 unites and make it financially work – nobody builds. When nobody builds – there is less taxes going into the City’s revenue base. So, the City has to raise taxes and the buildings that exist in downtown raise rent (because they can due to lack of inventory).
It is math. Historically, off-cycle elections have lower voter turnout. Lower voter turnout leads to the few dictating to the many. It is not time for the many to be heard?