OPINION: Your vote counts more in local elections

OPINION: Your vote counts more in local elections

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It’s that time of year again. Pretty soon, strangers will come knocking on our door, with their hands out.

We can turn out the lights, draw the blinds and hope they’ll go away — or we can give them a treat. That’ll be on Tuesday, Oct. 31.

Oddly enough, exactly a week later we’ll have to go through the same process again, on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

And whether or not a black cat crosses our path on the way to the polls, if we don’t vote, those folks may play tricks on us for the next two years.

But we never turn out to cast our spell in these municipal elections at anything like the rate we do when it’s time to vote for a president.

Which is sort of eerie, and maybe even a little creepy, in that our vote is so much more powerful locally — about 15,000 times more powerful — than it is when everybody from sea to shining sea is voting for the same office.

What? Yes. Think of it this way:

If you voted for president last fall — whether you chose one of the major-party candidates, such as Hillary Rodham Clinton, of 15 Old House Lane, Chappaqua, NY 10514; or Donald J. Trump, of 721 Fifth Ave. (PH), New York, NY 10022; or Jill Stein, of 17 Trotting Horse Drive, Lexington, MA 02421; or Gary Earl Johnson, of 850-C Camino Chamisa, Santa Fe, NM 87501; or perhaps one of the many write-in candidates, such as “Rocky” Roque De La Fuente, of 121 Nurmi Drive, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301; or Jeffrey Anthony Wu, of 180 Turn Of River Road, 15-B, Stamford, CT 06905 (don’t these home addresses make them seem almost like real people?) — your vote was one of about 134,000,000.

But in the election for mayor of Meriden last time around, if you voted for Kevin Scarpati, your vote was one of only 8,888 that it took to elect him.

That’s a ratio of 15,076 to one.

In 2016, voter turnout in Connecticut for the presidential race was 76.9 percent.

In 2015’s municipal elections, only 31.5 percent of registered voters turned out in Meriden, 38.3 percent in Wallingford, 36.1 percent in Southington, and 39.4 percent in Cheshire.

And yet, this is when we get to choose the mayor, members of our city or town council, board of education, and sometimes other boards and commissions, city or town clerk, and yes or no on some ballot questions.

OK, I know I’m spitting into the wind (a bit of a euphemism here), but I figured I’d give it a try.

Complicating matters this year is the state’s budget impasse.

The way it looks right now, by Election Day we’ll be more than four months into this weird period of rule by gubernatorial decree — have we seen anything like this since we got rid of King George III? — which has every town and city in the Constitution State wondering why our Constitution seems to have stopped working.

This will no doubt make some of us too depressed to come out on Nov. 7.

But others (one can only hope) will be more convinced than usual that we need good people at Town Hall to clean up the mess when the tapioca hits the air conditioner up in Hartford.

Reach Glenn Richter at grichter@record-journal.com.


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