I've never quite understood how it is that this country LOVES democracy, and yet so few people actually take part in it.
On Tuesday, just over 50,000 voters cast ballots in the primary for who would make it to the general election. According to census data, there are roughly 330,000 people of voting age in this city. That's just 15% participation.
Possibly even more interesting is the break out by district. Here are how the votes broke down by district (based on the total vote counts for the in-district races):
This leaves 21,087 votes for the 1st and 4th (which didn't have contested races) -- so roughly 10,543 votes for each of those two districts.
It's interesting of course that the districts with the most social problems tend to be most under-represented at the polls (including the 3rd, which is the probably the district with the most problems). It may then seem as no wonder that politicians are less likely to consider them when making city policies.
It is also interesting that the 1st District, which represents the Northland, is possibly the most influential district at the polls, is also the LEAST like the other districts in the city because it is much more suburban and does not deal with the same school, crime, infill issues as does the urban core.
It is also interesting that the two most affluent and engaged districts, the 1st and 4th, failed to have competitive council races.
This isn't an indictment on any of the candidates that advanced -- certainly there were some great new politicians that are political outsiders that have advanced...including folks like Tracy Ward and even Sly James. However, I still feel that if we are going to get the best out of our city we're going to need competitive council and mayoral races and more citizen involvement in our political process. Without that, we may all end up being ignored and the political insiders in the city will continue to vote in their own while the majority of the city watches them do it.