Local Elections: The Untapped Potential for the Future
Engage & Represent
If nothing else, the data from Traverse City’s city clerk’s office for the off-year election of 2009 reveals an untapped potential for young adults to influence the direction of the city. Granted, not reflective of all elections, but I hazard to guess the percentages remain true.
Of eligible voters, those under 50 years old represent 58% of the electorate and, thanks to a 9% voter turnout in that age group, only 24% of the total vote. The under 40 crowd represent 42% of the potential voters and only 6% of the 40 and under crowd cast a vote in 2009.
It is a tad surprising that the under 50 crowd is as large as it is. For all of the talk that Traverse City is a retirement community, the numbers here don’t support it. The City has a good mix and a healthy young adult populace. They simply aren’t that engaged.
As the November election begins (absentee ballots go out
soon today) the candidates for local office are looking at these numbers and seeing who has voted over the last several elections. They know by name, address and age whether you are a likely voter. This is how newbies prioritize their outreach and efforts and this information informs incumbents on how to frame their decisions on the councils that they now occupy. This needs to cause everyone to ask some introspective questions:
Am I relevant to these candidates?
Why would they listen to my concerns?
2009 Voting Data by Age Groups for Traverse City
|Age||Voted||Possible||Percent Voted||Percent of Electorate|
EDITOR’S NOTE: In a future post, I’m interested in exploring the differences in concerns and issues between the age groups. It’d also be instructive to explore the commonalities. I suspect that for the latter there are far more than might be imagined. If you have some perspective of the subject, please leave a comment or send me a message. It’d be greatly appreciated.