Recently there were local elections for Mayor and several other local offices in northern Indiana’s St. Joseph County. During the election campaigns much was said about the local economy, unemployment, crime, abandoned and vacant homes, and a lack of economic development. Local newspapers in both South Bend and adjacent Elkhart County were filled with highly critical voter concerns that were published in the Letters to the Editor sections questioning the direction and leadership of local government.
Now that the election is over, the Democrats have retained control of the Mayor’s office in South Bend, and the Republican incumbent has retained the Mayor’s office in Mishawaka despite a vicious negative campaign run by his Democrat opponent, something very significant has been revealed.
Yesterday I spoke to a knowledgeable member of the St. Joseph County Clerks Office and learned that the voter turnout for South Bend was 19.6%, and the turnout in Mishawaka was 24.8%. In other words 80.4% of the registered voters in South Bend and 75.2% of the registered voters in Mishawaka did not take the time or indicate their interest to vote in these vitally important elections.
While the winners in the Mayoral races in both South Bend and Mishawaka both won by landslides, neither should consider their election a mandate when you consider the insignificant size of the voter turnout. The truth of the matter is that the turnout in both cities was shamefully inadequate.
Recognizing that there is a substantial difference between a local election in St. Joseph County, Indiana and the General Election here in the USA in 2008 it is significant to note that 63% of this country’s eligible voters voted in the Presidential election. Now please take a look at a very interesting piece of information for voter turnout on Wikipedia:
It was interesting to learn that voter turnout in Australia is mandatory, and in Malta, which does not have required voting, the turnout averaged 94% during the years 1960 to 1995. Hopefully you scrolled down to pages 4 and 5 and noted the percentages of voting in a wide variety of countries world-wide. It is surprising to note the significantly higher average percentages of voter participation from 93% in Chile, to 86% in Germany to 51% in Poland during the same 35 year period. Tragically, the summary indicates that the lowest percentage of voting was in the United States with only an average of 48%. As the report specifies we Americans voted on the average of 55% in the General Elections and only 40% in the off-year elections.
If you read the Wikipedia link then you have noted the many factors that come into consideration for voter turnout. Taking all this into my consideration I am totally ashamed of my fellow Hoosiers here in St. Joseph County for such limited participation in local elections. If the people in the county have such a disregard for the governance of their communities then they have absolutely no business voicing any complaints about their local government. Those people should be totally ashamed of themselves and simply put they should keep their mouths shut taking what they get without any complaint.
These shocking numbers raise many questions that would make for a revealing Doctorate Thesis. What is the demographic profile, the percentage of non-voters who are unemployed, are on welfare, are Republicans or are Democrat Party members, and why South Bend appears to be in decay, and Mishawaka appears to be prospering. With voter turnout so low it is no wonder Newsweek Magazine deemed South Bend a “Dying City.” Your Commander can only believe that the people of this community just do not give a damn about the future of their local government. SHAME ON THOSE WHO DID NOT VOTE.