In other words, I vote because I care about my community. And voting makes me care about my community more.
Of course I have been urging you for quite some time to get and out vote in the Board of Education Election. (Today is the last day of Early Voting; then the Primary is Tuesday, April 26th.) But Heather is talking about Columbia Village Elections, which are Saturday, April 30th.
She describes the odd situation in Oakland Mills where there are seven people running for seven seats, with the CA rep. again running unopposed. Voters are being encouraged to vote for two amendments which would do away for the need for elections under such circumstances. Rev'd Kirk-Davidoff outlines the effort needed to motivate residents to participate in village elections.
This takes work. And it is work that the current Board members and Village staff would prefer not to do. So, this year there are also two amendments to the Oakland Mills by-laws on the ballot which would enable the neighborhood association to cancel the election if it is uncontested. The election newsletter than accompanied our ballot explained that currently eight out of ten of the Columbia villages cancel uncontested elections.
I think this is a really bad idea. I think it is great to ask people to vote--it reminds them that they are part of a community and that they have a voice. I also think it is great to require candidates to ask people to vote--it reminds them that they are part of a community and gets them to talk to people and maybe even to listen a bit.
For many years, the only accurate word to describe participation in Columbia and Village elections has been "dwindling". I have outlined in the past the reasons why younger and newer residents are turned off by the process and choose to stay away. Giving up on the election process altogether is not only an admission of defeat, it is an invitation to those in power to stay in power. It makes the representation of community members in our village even more of a private club than it already is.
This isn't the way to go. I'd love to have seen a concerted effort to bring in new and under-represented voices into our Village leadership, rather than asking people to vote to fold up our tents and just stay home. Many thanks to Heather for addressing this issue.