Monday, February 23, 2009

Some Possible Reasons for such a low turnout in the 5th County Council Special Election Thursday, Feb 19, 2009

(1) It was on a Thursday when people are not used to voting for county council .
(2) It was in February when people are not used to voting for county council.
(3) A significant portion of the district lies within the boundary lines of the city of Newark and some Newark residents view municipal government as being more central to their daily life than county government.
(4) Election fatigue following one of the longest election cycles in history .
(5) Due to the faltering economy much of the current events focus of people & the media is on the federal government & its stimulus attempts and the state government as it deals with a budget shortfall that is unprecedented.
(6) Other than occasional posts on local blogs there was a virtual media blackout with minimal coverage between the announcement on Jan 12th that Stephanie McClellan was stepping down and the last couple days of the election when the candidiate profiles were published in the News-Journal . Local talk radio had featured on-air interviews with both candidates in the 6th State Rep race in Dec 2008,but this did not take place in the 5th County Council race 2 months later.
(7) Local volunteer groups that traditionally sponsor candidate forums did not sponsor one for this race. I assume this was due to the 30 day campaign cycle which prevented weeks of planning and publicizing needed for such an event to be successful.
(8) Although the issues & services county council deals with impact the lives of residents (libraries, parks, county police, land use & zoning, Licensing and Inspection , emergency medical response, etc), the range of issues it is empowered to address is more narrow than the range of issues the state legislature can address .This might partly explain why none of the last five state legislative special elections had less than an 18% turnout and the 5th county council special election had a 5% turnout.
(9) There was no precipitation ,but between 1:51 pm and 7:51 pm winds were between 17.3 mph and 29.9 mph with gusts over 30 mph reported every hour except 6-7pm. Even though temperatures that afternoon were in the 30-46 degree range, the wind made travel less pleasant than if it had been less windy.

Weather information source:

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