Thursday, November 2, 2017

New voters leaving mark on Davidson election

aShortChronicle told readers previously that turnout was way up at Cornelius Town Hall for the first weekend of early voting.  Well, the high turnout has continued at that location through the half way mark ending Tuesday.  See below.

The total turnout of 1224 voters at the Cornelius site by the halfway point shows early vote turnout running at 425% of the turnout in 2015.  That's a big jump and a testament to the interest of voters this election cycle.

Detailed turnout data is also now available that provides some interesting insights into the internal dynamics of the electorate so far.

Compared to 2015 and 2013, at the halfway mark 2017 has already blown away the totals for the entire early voting period for those previous elections.  The totals for Davidson in 2015 and 2013 were 194 and 415 respectively.   At the halfway point as of Tuesday, 658 Davidson voters had gone to early voting or already returned their mail in ballots.

However that is not the big takeaway so far.  The biggest takeaway in Davidson is that first time voters are turning out in relative droves.

Of 658 Davidson early and mail-in voters through Tuesday, 243 are voting for the first time in a Davidson election going back 3 cycles.  When voters who have voted in just 1 Davidson election out of the last 3 contests going back to 2011 are added to that total, 372 voters are either first time voters or what could be classified as newer/infrequent voters.

That is a stunning 57% of the total so far.

If turnout among this type of voter continues at this pace, the electorate in Davidson will be very different than in years past, and that should be a good omen for the challengers in the race for Commissioner in particular.  Something has spurred this many new voters to decide to go to the polls. It is just a question of what.

Maybe, it is the fact there are actual choices this time with plenty of qualified candidates.  Maybe, people are finally fed up with how Town Hall is operating.  Maybe, the same people who have given the Town falling scores on the National Citizen Survey when it comes to trust in local government have finally decided to do something about it.   Or, maybe people are getting out because they approve of the things the incumbents have supported like the failed Catalyst Project, the failed Beaty Street RFP, the unpopular Rural Area Plan mass rezoning, or the controversial Griffith Street Hotel, but somehow aShortChronicle kind of doubts this last one.

Recently, in a bid to squash the challenge coming from these new candidates, supporters of business as usual at Davidson Town Hall have been casting about for "red herrings" - something to divert people from the real issues at hand in this election such as growth, transparency in government, and maintaining Davidson's small-town character.  These Town Hall supporters have taken to attacking some of the newcomer candidates' short tenure in town or their lack of a voting record in town elections as evidence they are somehow unqualified or don't care about Davidson.

One has to wonder if the same Town Hall supporters maligning these candidates for having the audacity to get into the political ring, think the same thing about these hundreds of new voters.  It is a safe bet they probably do.  They would probably prefer these voters stay home.

Here at aShortChronicle we take a very different view.  Since the beginning of this blog a primary objective has been to encourage people to get involved in civic life.  We've encouraged people to participate whether they are a newcomer or long-time resident.  We have regularly encouraged people to get out and vote.  The number of new voters already this cycle is inspiring.  The number and quality of new candidates should be cheered, not sneered.

Do not listen to the naysayers who want nothing more than Town Hall's flawed decision making to continue.  Instead, get out and vote.

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