This post is probably too late to affect the turnout in today’s elections, but my 140 Twitter quips about today’s low voter turnout seemed insufficient.
Voting happened across the United States today, but since the President, Congress, and Senate weren’t on the ballot (except in areas where Congresspersons or Senators were up for special elections), this was considered an off-year election. For many, it seemed insignificant, but I believe local elections are more important than national elections.
That’s not to say that national elections don’t matter. The people I help send to Washington deal with issues like war, tax rates, federal social services, etc., but the things that more significantly influence our day to day experience are local issues. City and county governments directly shape our cities and rural communities.
It was Tulsa County that proposed the Vision 2025 plan that built the shiny new BOK Center arena downtown. The City of Tulsa built ONEOK Field, the new baseball stadium. Our previous Mayor, Kathy Taylor, and the (split) City Council spent $68 million on a new City Hall building. These are only a three examples of huge decisions that didn’t come from Washington but from our own city and county leaders.
Today’s election included voting for new City Councilors and for or against several proposals to change the format of our city government. We weren’t just voting for who represents our part of the city but also which powers different members of local government have. We had the choice to keep our current Mayor-Council system, adopt a City Manager-Council system, or adopt a Mayor on the Council (+3 new “at-large” City Councilors) system. We also had the choice for non-partisan city elections. These are huge issues that will shape Tulsa for the foreseeable future.
Despite these important issues appearing on the ballot, when I went to vote at 1:30pm (polls opened at 7:00am), I was only the 67th person to cast a ballot at my polling station. I expected lower numbers in my district than other places in the city, because our Councilor was a shoo-in after the Primary election, but 67 people after half the day?!? Come on, Tulsa, fair city of half a million; don’t you give a damn?
p.s. My dear non-local readers, your local election matters, too, so please go vote.