Westporters love national elections. So many of us vote, in fact, we’ve won awards.
Local elections — not so much.
“Very poor” is the way Katy Goldschmidt — a former League of Women Voters president — describes turnout in non-presidential years. Slightly less than 50 percent in years (like this one) with a first selectman race, it dips to the mid-30s every 4th year, when even that office is not up for grabs.
“Everyone has an opinion” about the underwhelming numbers, Katy says. Hers is that voters are “bombarded” with information about national elections — but “it takes extra effort to make decisions about local candidates. People have to do the digging on their own — but they don’t.”
In addition, she says, “people don’t read newspapers anymore. They get information in different ways.” Groups like the LWV, she says, “have to explore how to get information about candidates to voters.”
Katy considers voting “a moral issue.” Except for selectmen, local officials are not paid. Voting, according to Katy, “is a way of saying ‘thank you’ for keeping the town running well.”
And, she adds, “you’re not fulfilling your role as a citizen if you don’t vote.”
The LWV has made a concerted effort to get people to the polls. A “My Town, My Vote” event received excellent press. But — perhaps deterred by stormy weather — few voters showed up.
Katy was heartened that, at a recent forum, write-in candidate John Izzo said: “Even if you don’t vote for me — get out and vote!”
“We try,” Katy said. “We’ll keep plugging away.”
(Election Day is Tuesday, November 3. Click here for the LWV’s Voter Guide.)