Black voters stay home
Some said they were unfamiliar with both the candidates and the issues
D. Kevin McNeir | 11/7/2013, 9 a.m.
In 2012 and 2008, Black voter turnout exceeded the white turnout rate — something that had never occurred in U.S. political history. Using census data and exit polling, the Associated Press determined that in 2008, white turnout was 66.1 percent and 65.2 percent for Blacks. George Mason University professor Michael McDonald, a specialist in analyzing voter turnout, says if you eliminate those who did not respond to the census, the Black turnout rate was
more like 76.6 percent in 2008, with 2012 numbers pretty much the same, albeit slightly lower. But those impressive percentages were reached during presidential elections where voter turnout is always at its highest as communities are bombarded with mailers, media blitzes and plenty of candidate rhetoric.
It was a much different scene this Election Day, Nov. 5th, with a disconcerting number of registered voters choosing not to exercise their rights and cast their vote. Instead it appears that a lot of voters simply stayed home. Apathy may have kept some from voting but many voters who spoke to this writer said they were hard pressed to make a decision because of the mudslinging and political miscues that were experienced by a number of the candidates during the campaign.
Voter turnout abysmal but could improve by day’s end
Based on data supplied to us from the Miami-Dade County Elections Department, as the polls opened last Tuesday, absentee ballots and early votes accounted for a 9.3 percent turnout for the City of Miami citywide and 8.4 percent for the City of Miami District 5. To put these numbers in perspective, consider that registered voters citywide and in District 5 total 177,704 and 41,599, respectively, and it’s clear that Tuesday was a make or break day for both ballot initiatives and candidates.
“The decision to vote or not is a very personal one, largely influenced by the voters’ interest and knowledge of the issue and its perceived impact on their lives,” said Penelope “Penny” Townsley, Miami-Dade County supervisor of elections. “Overall, based on the voting activity thus far, the Nov. 5th special election appears to be on historical par with what we have seen in other special elections of this type — averaging between 15 to 17 percent.”
Townsley noted that in 2009, the last time that District 5 was on the ballot during a general municipal election, citywide voter turnout was 22.42 percent with District 5 voter turnout just over 12 percent. She also emphasized that no two elections are the same, both because of the special questions being posed to the voters and because of the unique makeup of candidates.
But what did voters say about the four District 5 candidates for city commission, did they decide to pay additional property taxes to fund $830M in upgrades for Jackson Health System and were they satisfied enough with City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and City Commissioner Frank Carollo to return them to office? We’ll see if we have the answer today or if a runoff election will be needed on Tuesday, Nov. 19th.