Sunday, May 10, 2009

Austin Mayors Race Has Embarrassing Low Voter Turn Out Numbers- No Winner

Everyone who knows me is aware that I have been a supporter of City Councilman and Mayor Pro-Tem Brewster McCracken in the race for Austin Mayor.

In yesterday's election no candidate received the required 50% of the vote to claim the office, thus the top two candidates will face a run-off election on June 13th, 2009.

It was surprising to most to see that candidate Lee Leffingwell garnered 47%, while Brewster only pulled 27% in this three way race (Carole Keeton Strayhorn got 21%) between five people on the ballot.

Leffingwell's campaign is proud of the huge margin, based on percentage of those who voted, and from the way the TV news reported this... is claiming some sort of fictional mandate of the Austin voters.

The real story here is NOT about the percentages, it is about the HORRIBLE and embarrassingly low turn out of the registered voters. In a city with over 500,000 voters, just over 30,000 people voted for Leffingwell, and over 20,000 for Mr. McCracken. Instead of bragging about the percentages who favored them, both candidates should be appalled that they were part of an election where NOBODY cared enough to show up and vote.

This is embarrassing and every citizen in the city of Austin should be ashamed. The four city council members who were elected last night should not have been having victory parties to celebrate, but should be wearing black arm-bands to signify that they really have no support of their constituency. Theirs are dead-victories.

Every elected official in Austin should be disgusted with this low turn out. (But they are not, because a small turn-out with the "usual suspects" insures the same folks repeated victories). All of them should express REGRET that they do not make enough of an impact on the lives of the people who live in the city.

"Get Out The Vote" should be the rally call of our leaders. Anyone who hopes for low turn out has no business in public service!

I want to see Brewster McCracken and Lee Leffingwell take on this cause of increasing voter turn out during the month that will now lead up to the run off election.

While I will continue to support Brewster McCracken for Mayor of Austin, I am more concerned with the real numbers of voters than I am with who wins the race.

Come on Austin. We are better than this.

Have A Great Day.

thom

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Something like 14% of Austin voters voted. You are correct, embarrassing for a city that claims to be progressive.

You will not find our city council taking on this issue or they would find themselves out of jobs!

Thom Singer said...

For the first time in 18 years of living in Austin, Texas... I am embarrassed to live here. Those of us who love this city talk a lot about how it is a "special" place, entrepreneurial, unique, different, amazing, etc... Apparently, the truth is, we are just a city.

When only 13% of the registered voters can find the time to vote for mayor there is a problem.

We are a city of posers. We claim that we are this city where people care and are educated and informed beyond the norm.... but we seem to have a HUGE majority of citizens who are too busy to vote in an election that will map out the future of our once great town.

Sure, my horse came in second. But if the had lost by 200,000 votes I could say "wow" and congratulate the other side. But this is not an election, it is a handful of citizens making a choice and the rest not giving a flying dog.

I challenge Brewster and Lee to devote 15% of all their advertising and speeches to addressing the horror that is low voter turn out.

How fun to get over 50% of the voters to show up for the run off. Now that would be proof that this city has spark.

But we all know that even fewer people will vote in the run-off.

This is a shame to wake and realize that the city you believed was "Oz" is just faking it.

Rob said...

Perhaps to point this out, the last election similarly had as low voter turnout, we might ask ourselves,

"Why the shock this time?"

I live in Austin and am not embarrassed by the low turnout here or in other countries--it is the hallmark of a stable society.

Look around at those countries with the highest voter turnouts and compare them to us--do you prefer Venezuela, Russia, and every other punk state as our role model? Stop with your pleas for compulsory voter aerobics--it's neither evidence of a better democracy nor the path to one, it's simply our right to exercise OR NOT. As long as we have this right, it's our right. Simply not exercising a right is not forfeiture, it's more often common sense and decency--like withholding your free speech and opinions in front of a jerk--and better employed at a time when it matters... like when everyone hoped for Obama.

Getting out the vote is hard work and all political candidates try to do it ever since their high school cafeteria debut--oh yes, please vote for me! Problem is, most candidates are just not that interesting as people nor are they compelling as leaders.

If I'm going to be embarrassed, it's at the lack of fundamental capabilities our prospective elected officials inhabit and their meager intelligence presented to us as an option. Certainly they are good people, but that's not enough; that and the American cultural legacy of not getting over-exercised by and remaining perpetually mistrustful of politics and politicians. So you can probably double that spirit in Texas to equally discount the turnout.

That's the bottom line. You want to make a real difference--be interesting and capable and run for office, serve on a commission! Ah, but that would be too much to ask for of our best and brightest. Better to leave it to the car dealership owners and temp agency workers.

The best we can do is to not lament the voter turnout as being so low, but rather use it to inspire someone of greater capability to run for office--"Heck, EVEN I can get 30,000 votes!"