Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Why is Voter Turnout Higher in Polk & Webster County?

What is going on in Polk and Webster County?

Voter turnout in both counties far exceeded neighboring counties during the August primary.

In Greene County, we had about 15% turnout for the primary election in August 2006, which also included a countywide sales tax increase.

This bit of news comes from Dave Berry at the Bolivar Herald Free-Press:
Last week I called attention to the civility of Polk County elections and campaign ads when compared to those in other counties. Well, I need to back up and give Webster County its due for the effectiveness of its election robustness.

They do spend a lot more for campaigns there, and it's difficult to argue with their results. The Aug. 8 voter turnout in Webster County was nearly 40 percent of registered voters, compared to a little more than 23 percent here.

It does pay to advertise.

* * * * *

A 40-percent turnout is outstanding among current American voting standards. However, there are those who will say we should be ashamed to see that as a good result.

Frankly, I'm not ashamed. I'll gladly rejoice over 40 well-informed voters out of a group of 100 registered voters making decisions on leadership and tax issues.

Our better interest as citizens is in better hands even if only 20 percent show up, as long it's the right 20 percent.

And by that I don't mean you have to agree with my positions in order to be among the "right" 20 percent. I don't mind voters of the opposite ilk, as long as they go to the polls knowing - before they get there - what and/or who is on the ballot.

Could it be that negative advertising is driving voters away from the polls? Is there something special going on in Bolivar when it comes to public issues? No doubt, Bolivar is a healthy community with a fine newspaper. Perhaps communication is the key? Of course, with a university there perhaps having an educated population is part of the answer?

What do you think? Why the high numbers in Polk County? What can be done to see an increase in other counties? The answers are all part of revitalizing democracy.
I believe negative campaigns drive voters away. In Greene County, there were several very negative campaigns.

Of course, Greene County has a larger population so although the percentage was less the actual number of voters could have been more.

But, with that said, Polk and Webster Counties also have a more rural feel and I would guess that traditional values are stronger in those two counties. Part of traditional values is an emphasis on being involved in your community. Voting is one way to do that so I supposed people show up to do their duty.
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