Guest View: Lack of Voting, Not Registration, is the Problem

RenUnity_chopra_topGuest View: Lack of Voting, Notwaterwork Registration, is the Problem

(Kurt Metzger,, March 17, 2015)

This week marks the beginning of a voter registration drive in Oakland County.  Clerk/Register of Deeds Lisa Brown will hold five voter registration drives throughout March in the communities of Southfield, Auburn Hills, Royal Oak, Waterford, and Farmington Hills.

“Voting is one of the most important rights we have in our country, and I want to be sure that everyone who is eligible to vote has the opportunity to get registered before the next election on ctechadMay 5,” Brown said.

The voter registration drives are scheduled for:

Monday, March 16, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Atrium at the Buell Management Building at Lawrence Tech University, 21000 W. Ten Mile Road, Southfield
Thursday, March 19, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in the Student Center Building at Oakland Community College’s Auburn Hills campus, 2900 Featherstone, Auburn Hills
Friday, March 20, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the B Building at Oakland Community College’s Royal Oak campus, 739 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak
Monday, March 23, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., in Woodland Hall South at Oakland Community new way 01 ping pongCollege’s Highland Lakes campus, 7350 Cooley Lake Road, Waterford
Tuesday, March 24, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the J Building at Oakland Community College’s Orchard Lake campus, 27055 Orchard Lake Road Farmington Hills

Citizens must be registered by April 6, 2015 in order to vote in the statewide special election being held on May 5, 2015.

While I applaud the effort at making sure our residents are registered to vote, REGISTRATION IS NOT THE PROBLEM……VOTING IS! While it is my hope that Proposal 1’s effort to boost the sales tax seed94321Krzysiakto fund roads (and municipalities, and schools, and EITC) will grab people’s attention and drive them to the polls, past results make me think otherwise.

I am only going to quote Oakland County results going forward, noting that Oakland County has consistently had one of the highest voter turnout rates in the state.

The highest rates always occur in November races in even numbered years. In leap years (2000, 2004, 2008, etc.) we have the Presidential election, along with all Congressional seats, all State House seats and a variety of State Senate seats. In the intervening years (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014) we replace the Presidential with a Gubernatorial race, accompanied by all the others as before. The odd numbered years are consumed with local races – taxes, council, library boards, etc. Let us look at countywide results since 2008 – the biggest national turnout in recent memory.20150317chartTITLE

It is clear to see that we are gung ho when it comes to dinos02sidelogo3Presidential elections, though our turnout still is lower than a vast number of countries throughout the world. We show a 20+ percentage drop-off when our vote determines the next Governor of the state, plus all those other legislative offices.

Where we really fall off is elections where the issues are local. While I have long heard the phrase, “All politics are local,” voter turnout demonstrates that most of us just don’t care. While we have shown very clearly that we can’t seem to get to the polls for local elections in November of odd-numbered years, why do we hold elections in February and May?

A perfect example of that occurred in the recent February election in Hazel Park. In her State of the City address, Mayor Janice Parisi stated, “We recently passed the all-important South Macomb Oakland Regional Services Authority millage, which will ensure that Hazel Park can provide our residents nicholas-schrock-allstatewith vital fire and police protection. This first-of-its-kind arrangement with Eastpointe created an authority to fund fire services in both communities. Each city will keep its own fire department, which will be funded by SMORSA. If our voters had not passed this millage, police and fire services would have been gutted, as well as the public works and recreation departments. Thank you Hazel Park voters!”

While I am happy for Hazel Park and Eastpointe, the voters that Mayor Parisi thanked represented 6.8 percent of registered voters (In Eastpointe it was just under 11%)! Ninety-three percent of Hazel Park voters did not come to the polls to vote for their continued police and fire protection!

What is it going to take to increase turnout? We need your ideas!



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