By Robert A. Vella
Yesterday’s off-year elections in the U.S. saw sweeping victories for conservative candidates and issues across the nation. Republicans gained the governorship in Kentucky and held control over the Virginia state senate. An anti-discrimination ordinance in Houston was soundly rejected, and an irresponsible anti-tax initiative is leading in the blue state of Washington.
Although it’s still too early to assess overall voter turnout, preliminary results indicate a continuing downward trend.
In Kentucky, which had the statewide race for governor, voter turnout was a dismal 30%. For comparison, voter turnout in that state was 44% in the historically low midterm election of 2014.
Voter turnout statistics in Virginia were unavailable at the time of this posting, but are also likely to be low. From the Huffington Post – Democrats Lose Virginia Senate Control Because They Don’t Vote:
The Democrats have a serious problem in elections other than those for president — voter turnout.
In the latest example of the ineptness of the Democratic Party and their supporters, the Democrats lost a chance to win control of the Virginia Senate because their voters failed to show up at the same rates as Republicans.
The key race for control of the nearly-evenly divided Virginia Senate was the Tenth District, a district that stretches from portions of downtown Richmond City, east through portions of Chesterfield County to encompass the entirety of Powhatan County. The open-seat contest pitted Republican Glen Sturtevant against Democrat Dan Gecker. In this swing district where Obama received 52% of the vote (as a share of Obama’s and Romney’s vote), the election would be decided by a battle between Democrats residing in Richmond City and Republicans in Powhatan County, as illustrated by this map of the election results from the Virginia Public Access Project.
Preliminarily, Sturtevant won the election by 1,494 votes or 2.7 percentage points. (This number may change as the election canvass is completed and certified.)
In the great state of Texas, voter turnout has been estimated at 11%. Yes, that’s 11 percent.
So far as compiled, a whopping 23% of Washingtonians turned out to vote.
In Ann Arbor, Michigan, a shockingly low voter turnout of 8.7% has been reported.
In Rochester, New York, 28% of voters turned out although this represents a drop from the 2011 election.
With the popular issue of marijuana legalization on the ballot, voter turnout was projected to be somewhat higher in Ohio. The investor-sponsored marijuana initiative (Issue 3), which would have created a new industry monopoly in the state, was overwhelmingly defeated. A counter referendum (Issue 2), which would constitutionally preclude such monopolies, was approved.
I ask you, dear readers, can such pathetically low voter turnout really be described as functional democracy?
On a lighter note, voters in Washington state approved an initiative (I-1401) making it illegal to traffic in species threatened with extinction by a margin of over 2-to1; and, voters in Seattle approved an initiative (I-122) destined to become the country’s first democracy voucher program as a means of combating the corrupting influence of money in politics.
Further reading: Conservatives Have A Big Night In Local And State Elections