Green Party Candidate Frank Cetera, running for 2nd District Syracuse City Council, calls on the citizens of Syracuse to “make some news and Get Out To Vote”, for elected officials to be more proactive in facilitating voter turnout, and for media to take responsibility for keeping the voting public informed about candidates and campaigns.
The 2013 General Election in Syracuse saw vote totals around 20% of those actually registered to vote in our City. The national average for local elections is very similar to that in Syracuse. University of Wisconsin researchers provided elections data covering 144 large U.S. cities, with the most recent year in the study of 2011 reporting only 20.9% voter turnout.
Until we see the sweeping reforms that Mayor Stephanie Miner recently called for, including early voting, “no excuse” absentee balloting, and universal voter registration, our elected officials should take leadership not only in voter registration but also in Get Out The Vote activities.
This could include regular press releases and media events from City Hall and Common Council in the month leading up to Election Day, free bus passes on Election Day, public distribution of polling place locations on poster-sized maps, bus ads containing reminders to vote, and coordinated efforts of constituent services volunteers in extra-low turnout areas such as the segregated neighborhoods of high-poverty black, Latino, and white residents.
Low-turnout elections are generally dominated by whiter, more-affluent and older voters, and typically aren’t representative of the electorate as a whole according to 2010 research published by UC San Diego Professor Zoltan Hajnal. Results from the research indicate that “low and uneven turnout, a factor at play in most American cities, leads to sub-optimal outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities, including uneven prioritization of public spending.”
Cetera is campaigning on a platform that explicitly calls for the role of government to end poverty with every means and strategy possible, “As long as we don’t provide equal access and representation at our polling places, and regular and complete information about candidates and campaigns to the public, we won’t see an end to segregation, racism, and poverty in our city.”