Happy Election Day

The Times Standard printed an appropriate and interesting editorial for election day.  Their point is that Humboldt voters (along with all other voters I believe) choose to mostly ignore off year elections.  The reasons are obvious.  One is we have been lured, and not without merit, to focus our attention and passions at the national level.  But as the editorial argues, our votes in these local elections “carry more weight than any (we) will cast in a national or statewide election.”

And unfortunately we disappear for these local, off-year elections…

When it comes to picking the women and men among us who will direct the course of schooling, water, sewage and firefighting in our own neighborhoods? Crickets. Voters disappear in droves.

Here are the numbers as reported in the editorial:

Percentage of Humboldt County registered voters voting…

Presidential election year, General election (November 2012) … 72.6 %

Presidential election year, Primary election (June 2012) … 42.0 %

(notably + 7.5% over California generally!  Way to go HumCo.)

Off year, General election (November 2011) 22.5%

The one quible I would have with the editorial is the following.  Those percentages represent the REGISTERED voters as the denominator, not the actual number of ELIGIBLE voters – and the percentage of actual voters to eligible voters would be even worse than actual voters to registered voters.

Doing some back-of-envelope calculations (on XL) using census data… We have 134,827 residents according to census data.  about 20% of them are under 18 and cannot vote, and let’s just add another, say 5 % to include potential undocumented immigrants, etc (census counts RESIDENTS, documented or not)  That’s approximately just over 100,000 residents who are eligible to vote.  So if we match the 2011 percentage, 22.5% of registered voters will vote in 2013.

Therefore, the percentage of eligible voters (county-wide) would be 22.5 (%) x 67,450 (registered voters) = 15,176 predicted 2013 voters county-wide.  We already figured out the pool of ELIGIBLE voters (ie citizens over 18) is approximately 100,000 county-wide so the percentage of eligible voters would be 15,176 (predicted 2013 voters) / 100,000 (estimated 2013 eligible citizens) or about 15% of eligible voters will vote.

So, not even 2 people out of every 10 are going to vote in this election if past results can predict the future (which they often do).  As the Time Standard rightly editorialized today … we need to work on this.

Note:  Those were a lot of numbers and I’m going to correct any errors above as soon as I can later today.  I don’t have a lot of time and I wanted to get this post out there.  Please stay tuned for any corrections and I welcome any in the comment zone.

  • I’m voting today and I hope you either have or will vote today too.
  • BTW, I’m voting for Lisa Ollivier for Eureka School Board.  We need a Democrat and Eureka Teacher’s Association endorsed candidate to help change the direction of the school board to one that protects our shared community infrastructure and believes in a quality education through public institutions for ALL children for now and the long term.
  • Also, I think I read recently that there is a GPU debate at the courthouse today, but its not listed on the Board of Supervisor’s web site.  It’s not considered one of the series of GPU meetings for some reason as the one scheduled for the 4th was cancelled due to Supervisor Fennell’s illness.  (be well Estelle)
  • Update:  I did find the agenda on the HumCo website, my mistake.  I attended the meeting for about an hour while they honored our local volunteer honor guard who do good work attending funerals for families of veterans.  Here’s the link to today’s agenda.  I could not make out where the GPU-related item was on the agenda, so I gave up.  Here’s the link to the T-S Sunday article and here is the first sentence…

“Petitions to reclassify around 380 acres of land to timberland in an amendment to the county General Plan will be addressed during public hearings on Tuesday before the Board of Supervisors.”

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2 thoughts on “Happy Election Day

  1. Anonymous says:

    If you rented Michael Moore’s blockbuster, “Capitalism, A Love Story” he included U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s quickly-ignored and forgotten energy address where Carter warned that the greatest threat facing the U.S. was the chronic 70% of eligible voters that are either unregistered or abstain in every election. Carter predicted that this would hamper the nation’s transition to alternative energy independence and Middle East instability…Ronald Reagan removed Carter’s solar panels from the White House in his “first hundred days” in office.

    Since then, every census report has documented abysmal registration statistics, especially with youths turning 18. Both major political parties, academia, and the media in every community could easily address this disaster, none do, favoring wealthy interests nationwide. Coincidence?

    1. Great point A. I don’t remember if I saw that MM movie, but I am too familiar with the actual and symbolic removal of Carter’s solar panels. Just imagine if Reagan had the foresight to encourage solar too? Why not? (We know why not – fossil fuel advocates) But just imagine how advanced our renewable energy sector could be today. We would be leading the world instead of playing catch up with Germany and now China (at least in terms of solar panel manufacturing in the latter case).

      So the chronic missing 70% is the bad news. But glass half full, there is a resource there that is waiting to be motivated again. We just have to figure out how to bring them back. We have a decent system to work with, the more people we can get involved the better it can become.

      “Both major political parties, academia, and the media in every community could easily address this disaster, none do, favoring wealthy interests nationwide. Coincidence?”

      That’s pretty insightful actually and is a problem from the local level to the national and across borders as you say. And I see it first hand here in HumCo. Money’s influence is not always nefarious, but it is insidious and ubiquitous.

      *puts down dictionary*

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