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What if we held an election and nobody ran

by: tmess2

Wed Apr 04, 2012 at 20:48:06 PM EDT

In theory, a democracy or a republic is based on the principle that people get to choose who represents them.   But how representative is government when the voters have no choice in elections?

Yesterday was municipal election day where I live.  Of the six school districts in my county, four did not have an election because not enough candidates filed, and school districts were the main contested races on the ballot.  About half of the mayors races were contested, but only about one-quarter of the city council seats, one-third of the fire district seats, and none of the road district seats.

Last week was the end of filing for the primary election for state and federal election.  Perhaps these filings would show more competition for office at the state level.  Unfortunately, once you got away from the federal elections and the state-wide officeholders, the numbers are equally disappointing.

Out of 17 state senate seats, nine will not be contested in November.  And of those nine, four will not even have a primary.  That's right about one-eighth of our state senate have effectively appointed themselves to office (ignoring the numbers who did the same two years ago).  Of the other eight seats, two are between just the two major parties with no primariu, five are between just the two major parties with only one party having a primary, and the last features the two major parties and a third party with a primary for just one of the major parties.  So four districts in which voters have no say, five districts in which you only have a say if you belong to one party, two in which you have a say in the general, but no say in who represents your party, and six in which voters in only one party have a say in who represents their party.

Moving onto our 163 representatives.  Their are seventy-five seats which will not be contested in November.  There are another six seats in which the only opposition is a third-party.   That's right, in half of the seats, one of the two parties is not contesting the election.  Furthermore out of these eighty-one seats, there is only a major party primary in 39 of the seats (36 uncontested in the general and three only contested by a third party).  In other words, barring a third-party candidate winning one of these seats, 42 races have already been resolved -- one quarter of our state house.

Of the 82 seats to be contested by the two major parties in November, forty-five have no primary,  thirty only have a primary in on of the two major parties, and only seven races have a primary in both parties.

That is a scary number, seven out of one hundred eighty seats in which primary voters in both parties and general elections voters will have a say in the direction of their legislature.  For voting to make a difference, there needs to be choices.  Unfortunately, I don't think my state is unique in giving very little in the way of choices to voters.

tmess2 :: What if we held an election and nobody ran

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WOW (0.00 / 0)
I agree with you, Tmess, that it's sad and shocking. There are a host of reasons why people don't run for office, all of which harken back to the idea that the whole system is broken.

Over the years, I've been approached about running for office, and there are times when I've considered running for the state assembly here. And I'm very clear on why I always chose not to run. On the surface, I'd seem to have a lot going for me: I'm outgoing and really could knock thousands of doors. I speak well, and have no problem getting up in front of a crowd of people. I could raise money. My positions are clear and would present a true choice to voters. I would be good at representing the voters, I would be conscientious.

I have not, and will not, run for office because I don't want my personal life opened up. I don't have anything really skeletal in my background, but there are things that I don't want publicized. I don't want to be attacked for things that happened decades ago. So I understand why good people don't run.

Attack Ads (0.00 / 0)

When my boss ran for State Senate 8 years ago (a narrow loss caused in part by Kerry pulling out of the state and in part ot the national Bush effort to turn out evangelicals), a voucher group ran attack ads against him for:

1) protesting fur 14 years earlier when he was in law school (the protest was more a test case on whether a major shopping area was a public forum);

2) using fees established by statute as being for training for training (of course that fact was left out and instead the ads focused on the money being spent to go to the locations of the conferences);

3) only going to trial on 3% of his cases (even though that was above the state average);

4) wanting to serve on the Agriculture committee as the Senator from a rural district (claiming that since he eats chicken rather than beef that it was part of an anti-beef conspiracy).

[ Parent ]
wow! (0.00 / 0)
a chicken eater? good thing they stopped him, huh? yeah, attack ads are nasty, as are whisper campaigns, not sure how you stop it, but i am sure if the laws were changed to prevent anyone who was not a eligible voter in the district the candidate is running for to donate or buy ads on behalf of the candidate or his opposition, it would help.

not sure promoting or attacking a candidate out of district is free speech. sounds more like meddling.

[ Parent ]




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