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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Turnout in Local Elections

Our chapter on political participation discusses voter turnout, making the point that citizenship takes effort. The Port Huron, Michigan, Times Herald reports:
There aren't any huge state issues or a presidential race coming up in Tuesday's election.

But that doesn't mean voters shouldn't visit the polls.

While presidential elections attract far more voters, local races are just as important, experts say.

"That's actually the irony of it, because local elections have more day-to-day impact," said Brent Forsgren, a political science instructor at St. Clair County Community College in Port Huron. "We should care because local elections allow us the closest thing to pure or direct democracy. It's more significant."
Forsgren said one of the reasons there usually are low turnouts for local elections is because those elections require voters to make an effort.

He said voters have to look at the issues and find out what each candidate's stand on it is. Using Port Huron's races as an example, that's 15 different opinions with the number of council and mayoral candidates.

"That takes a lot of effort and currently most Americans don't put that much effort into their voting, and locally that's who is going to determine things about their daily life," Forsgren said.