There are several factors impacting voter complacency this year. Some of those factors are systemic and some are unique to this 2020 cycle. Let’s look at why people may or may not give a shit about the elections.
200 Ballots from the Four Keys Inn
Oh, you didn’t know that one? Let’s face it, the mail-in Primary was a disaster.
From the confusion, the night before elections, to the “Ohio Two-Step” for voters to get a mail-in ballot people were frustrated, ill-informed, and even misled. To make matters worse, the mail-in ballot system is notoriously flawed. Even with mandates from the Secretary of State Frank LaRose about the cut off date for post markings on the ballots, local election board members decided to make their own rules on the fly. I sat in awe as they voted to overturn the Secretary of State’s ruling and allow for postmarks after the date very publically announced by LaRose.
This process disenfranchised candidates and voters alike.
People Don’t Vote On A Good Year
The actual number of registered voters in Scioto County is respectable. Then, reality sets in. How many people do you think actually exercise their right to vote?
50%, 40% ,30% ???
Actually, it’s a HUGE turnout if the numbers get to 25%. (That’s the systemic problem I referred to at the top).
Of that 20 to 25% turnout, here’s how the age groups breakdown.
According to the Pew Research Center (of which SCDN is proudly a member of their press association) 21% of voters are Millenials, 26% are Generation X and 36% are Boomers.
In Scioto County, that means (in a typical year) all of the elected offices are decided by about 8,900 ballots. With Voter fatigue, Candidate complacency, and procedural issues it would be completely reasonable to cut that number in half. Amazingly, it’s also a Presidential year which, normally, yields the highest voter turnout.
Think, Family Reunion
Most of us have an annual family reunion. Think of the elections in those terms. At your family reunion, there are the core group of family members that show up every year without question. Just name the time and place, they will be there with slaw, biscuits, and green bean casserole. When planning for space, seating, and utensils, that’s the number you budget.
Next, you have those that show up on occasion (usually based on a prompt that a certain family member will or will not be there).
Finally, there are the “Gomer Pyles” Surprise, Surprise, Surprise.
Local elections are nearly identical. The incumbent already has their “family” support. They know those numbers. It’s on the challenger to gather enough people to show up at their party to give them any worries. No rumbles from the challenger mean no worries for the incumbent.
The incumbent clearly has the advantage. If the candidate that wants to unseat them isn’t making too many waves, they just ride it out. Nice and quiet.
Blame COVID For Everything
Just yesterday, the President floated the idea of postponing the elections. The theory was to have in-person voting over the risky proposition of another mail-in nightmare. In Ohio, the press is bracing for the Governor to make some last-minute changes that would affect school openings and elections.
COVID is front and center in everyone’s every day. There’s no escape. Do I mask? Should I hold the door open for someone? Que the Police “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”.
County Commissioners gave some sobering statistics. Since March, there have been 39 opioid-related deaths in Scioto County. There has also been an incredible increase in domestic violence and child sexual abuse. The Commissioners agree that pedophiles are a very high priority. They stated the legal penalties imposed should be the maximum allowed and even said to those who haven’t been caught yet, they best go ahead and leave the area because the long arm of the law is coming.
That’s a perfect segway into the next category
Children’s Services “Transitional House”
In the most contested races of two Scioto County Commissioner seats, there is one “hot button” issue that has risen to the top: housing for the 270+ children who are in protective custody. Some of the lofty goals are to have a “Children’s Home”. Another model is to open transitional housing for temporary emergency arrangements. This would look more like the transitional housing used by rehab facilities.
There are drug rehabilitation services in Scioto County that own has many as 30 separate homes.
The race is on. Whoever grabs this house, for example, will be able to give shelter to 16 children. In Ohio, you can have up to four children of the same sex in a bedroom. That’s two bunk beds. As long as each child has their “own space” like a small chest of drawers.
Millions of dollars and years worth of grant applications are impractical. Whoever buys this house for $60K (from Joey Sandlin) will win.
- Can a candidate put it under contract? Yes.
- Can they purchase an option on the property? Sure, that’s a safe bet.
- Can the Board of Children’s Services make an offer? Yes.
Of course, this is just an example. The larger point is ACTION. Who makes the first move? The one that offers a real-time solution and not a proposal with an architectural rendering, will earn the respect of potential voters.
If there is finally an issue that will get voters emotionally invested, that’s the whole election. The smart politician will put their stamp on a “transitional home” by the end of Aug. Let the big, expensive, cumbersome, issue of a massive build ride. Repurpose the inventory that already exists.
Who does give a shit about the elections?
The easy answer is: Everybody. But, not enough to act. They will certainly have their opinions AFTER the elections.
The people who have the jobs need to step up and vocalize why they should keep them.
The people who want the jobs need to declare a platform with actionable points that they can stand on and the community will embrace.
Areas like Otway had to appoint a Mayor because there was no candidate. Many candidates are running unopposed.
So, we need more people to want to serve and more people willing to educate themselves about the issues in their township, on the local school board, as well as their villages or cities and county.
Frankly, those incumbents (remember them) should not be relying on the “Family Reunion Factor”. Your record can stand for itself. But, how do they know what that record is? What are your highlights and what are your plans?
Candidates, what specific decisions made by the incumbents do you oppose, and why. Why should the voters (that show up or mail-in) give you a job that will pay you more than they make? The public needs to learn it and you need to earn it.
Don’t be an automatic yes vote on every issue. Be a disruptor. Shake it up. Give a Shit!