Thursday, March 20, 2008

No, not one

Regular readers of my weekly newspaper column have heard me preach extensively about the importance of voting. (Click here and here for examples.)

Now comes the most recent evidence that Americans just don't seem to get it, institutionally speaking:

No One Votes in Florida Election

TAMARAC, Fla. (AP) - Every vote counts. But what happens when there are no votes at all?

That's the situation city officials in Tamarac are facing. No voters showed up (last) Wednesday night to cast a ballot in an annexation referendum for an unincorporated Broward County community.

There are 68 registered voters in the 200-person Prospect Bend neighborhood. Tamarac officials have proposed annexing the neighborhood.

Details were mailed to registered voters. If just one voter had shown up, that one vote would have decided the neighborhood's fate.

The cost of keeping a polling site open for 12 hours with no voters: $2,500.

City officials could take another approach to annexing the area. One option is a mail-in ballot election.
City annexation. Think this issue makes a difference to those 200 Prospect Bend residents? Think it matters in terms of police protection, garbage collection and local representation on issues of all kinds?

Think it matters to their taxes?

If I was an elected official in Broward County, annexation of Prospect Bend would be a dead issue. If information was mailed to these residents and no one cared enough to show up to vote, what makes county officials think that it's in any way responsible to spend another lump of cash on a mail-in ballot?

Stories like this make me mad, and then they make me sad. This slow erosion of democracy and self-government is frustrating and infuriating. But people don't seem to care.