FORUM WATCH EDITORIAL
By. Neil Williamson, President
Virginia likes elections.
We like elections so much, we have one every November. Unfortunately, Virginia Voters do not participate in all elections equally. Historically, Presidential elections generate the highest voter turnout.
As the Washington Post reported in September:
…the “off-off” year — with just state legislative races and no presidential or statewide contest — is the most easily ignored by voters. The campaign cycle is much shorter than for federal or statewide contests, television ads are scarce, and turnout historically hovers around 30 percent.
Over the years, we have written extensively about voter turnout and why it matters. In 2015, we quoted Canadian Rocker Geddy Lee in explaining why “off-off” year voters had supersize impact:
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.
We also highlighted the ease of voting in such an election by discussing the Geico Gecko.
This Tuesday’s question is not are you willing to spend 15 minutes to save 15% on car insurance, but are you willing to spend 10 minutes to determine the future direction of your community?
In such a low participation election, who actually goes to the polls on November 5th will determine the contests. This brings us to GOTV. The Campaignworkshop.com provides a working definition for candidates:
GOTV (gee-oh-tee-vee) stands for Get Out The Vote and is used to describe a political field strategy for a candidate or organization ensuring that voters who are most likely to vote for your campaign actually do so. It sounds simple, but there can be many hurdles for good get out the vote, and remember: your opponent is doing the same thing.
GOTV tactics such as mailers, robocalls and robo-texting will be maximized over the next couple of days as candidates attempt to energize and activate their voters to get to the polls on Tuesday.
Even without a Federal election, national politics can influence local elections. After Donald Trump’s Presidential election (Virginia went for Hillary Clinton), Democratic turnout surged in the two following elections.
The Washington Post quoted longtime Richmond political analyst Bob Holsworth regarding how national politics can impact off year elections:
To have the turnout advantage favor the Democrats in off years was very significant and was really an example of what I call the negative Trump effect. The question is, does that still linger in 2019? Can the Democrats gin that up again?
Each vote in an “off-off” election is precious. One need only look to the last election cycle in Albemarle County’s Rivanna District race or Greene County’s Ruckersville District to see the import of each and every vote:
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.
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 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
Photo Credit: Warner Brothers via http://www.gify.com, Virginia Board of Elections, Geico