One day left. Mercifully.
Citizens and candidates alike look forward to the end of the election season. As one local incumbent described the process, “There’s two ways to run, unopposed or scared”.
Unfortunately, this election we have many seats running unopposed. This is not an indictment of the candidates running, The Free Enterprise Forum strongly believes contested races make better candidates. Simply put contested elections make candidates explain and defend their positions thus making the public better informed and generates better policy after the election.
By virtue of reading this post, you tend to be one of the more engaged community members. By now, you likely know who is running for local office in your locality. Hopefully, you know where they stand on issues that are important to you and you have selected the candidate that best represents your views.
Here in Virginia we like elections so much we hold them every year. This year is an “off-year” election meaning there are no Federal offices on the ballot but there is a gubernatorial race. By means of contrast the 2016 presidential election year saw 72.05% statewide voter turnout compared with the last “off” year the 2013 Gubernatorial election turnout of 43.0%.
Based on early absentee voting and historical averages, the Free Enterprise Forum anticipates the 2017 statewide election turnout to hover near 40%. Locally, the lack of multiple contested races may hinder turnout. We do not believe it will exceed 50%.
Credit: Rassumsen Reports
It is not a leap to predict roughly half of registered voters likely will not vote this cycle. Therefore, regardless of the locality, this year’s campaign will come down to which campaign motivates their voters to show up at the polls.
Get Out The Vote, known in the ‘biz’ as “GOTV”, campaigns have been underway by the major parties, and special interest groups, for a number of weeks. Likely voters are being contacted via mail, phone, and in person by party operatives and candidates. Historically, this type of “ground game” can make the difference. Over the years, we have seen the amount of shoe leather candidates put into the campaign can have a higher return than signs and advertising in many of the local races.
Every vote matters as evidenced by several recent close elections. In the 2013 Samuel Miller District Race in Albemarle County, Liz Palmer on a Board of Supervisors contest by 874 votes. The same year, Jim Frydl won his Greene County Supervisor race by 33 votes. In 2011, Supervisor Davis Lamb won his Ruckersville seat by just 15 votes (with 41 votes going to a candidate who had dropped out of the race).
Typically turnout elections favor those candidates with well defined and energized constituencies. While there are a multiplicity of local constituencies with varying levels of organization, the question of election day is which of these constituencies are both motivated and energized. Put succinctly, what half will show up?
The Free Enterprise Forum is a non partisan public policy organization, as such we embrace elections as the political marketplace for ideas. We sincerely thank ALL the candidates who are making the sacrifice to run for public office. We strongly encourage everyone to make your voice heard by voting.
The candidates have done their job by running now it is up to you – Polls will be open Tuesday from 6 am to 7 pm.—VOTE
If you do not know where you vote, click here for your polling place.
Neil Williamson, President
Neil Williamson is the President of The Free Enterprise Forum, a privately funded non partisan public policy organization covering the City of Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa and Nelson County. For more information visit the website www.freeenterpriseforum.org