FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL
By Neil Williamson, President
This year every voter is a super voter. Geddy Lee from the Canadian rock band Rush explained this concept precisely many years ago – Please let me explain.
Over the years we have written extensively about voter turnout and why it matters.
In Virginia, along with our peanuts and Virginia Wine we love our elections; we love them so much we hold them every year.
While the balance of the country (except New Jersey) is looking toward November 2016 for their next election, Virginians must vote on their local representation in the General Assembly, many of their constitutional officers (Commonwealth Attorney, Commissioner of the Revenue, etc.) as well as those who represent them in the County office building or City Hall.
2015 (as 2007 and 2011) is what is known as an “Off-Off” year election. There are no federal races on the ballot and there is no Gubernatorial race either. Such elections regularly see low voter turnout.
But what does that mean for the local races that are on the ballot?
It means, as the button above suggest, your vote has superpowers. In every election every vote matters but in off off year elections with less than 25% of registered voters in any given district voting, your vote matters 75% more.
In Fluvanna County, the 2007 Palmyra District Board of Supervisors race was won by John Gooch with 364 votes just 18 vote less than his opponent Minor Eager. In fact, before counting the absentee ballots Gooch led Eager by merely 10 votes. Fast forward to 2011, when Bob Ullenbruch beat Gooch by 106 votes.
Albemarle County Rivanna District 2015 race features three candidates. Historically, a multiplicity of candidates further inflates the value of each vote. In 2011, Greene County had a four way race for the newly created Ruckersville District, absent an incumbent the race was very close, with the eventual winner Davis Lamb winning by just 15 votes:
Considering that the 2007 Rivanna District’s contest was decided by 149 votes and the 2011 election was decided by 685 votes, this year’s three way race without an incumbent will likely be decided by the candidates Get Out The Vote (GOTV) success.
Adding complexity to predicting the Albemarle County turnout, is the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s and Clerk of the Courts races which seems to be gathering momentum in the final days of the campaign. If these races continue to generate attention you may see a slight increase in the number of Albemarle voters headed to the polls.
The Free Enterprise Forum anticipates slightly higher than average turnout in Greene County this year. The Greene election features several county wide elected positions (At-Large Supervisor, Clerk, Sherriff). Based on historical trends, and dependent on the candidate GOTV efforts, we would not be surprised to see better than 38% voter turnout in Greene County this cycle.
This election will select those who serve the government closest to you, your local government. The candidates who are successful in this campaign will be the ones to determine the vision for the locality as well as the ordinances; they will develop the budgets and set the tax rate.
Do you know where your polling place is? If not click here.
Polls will be open from 6 am to 7 pm. Based on projections, there will not be significant lines.
Yes, Virginia will hold an election next Tuesday; the question is will you be a part of it?
Regardless of your involvement in this year’s election, the results will impact you for years to come.
As classic rock composer Geddy Lee posed in his anthem “Freewill”
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
It really is all up to you.
Will you be one of the 2015 super voters?
Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and Nelson County.
Photo Credits: Blogspot, Charlottesville Tomorrow, Virgina Board of Elections