The Big Q: Why Was Voter Turnout So Low and How Would You Increase Participation in Future Elections?

When the dust settled Tuesday night, 33,766 Harford County residents had cast their ballots in the 2014 Gubernatorial Primary Election – representing just 21.26% of the 158,858 registered voters eligible to participate.

Did you vote?
Why was turnout so low? Apathy? Lack of accessibility? Lack of good candidates? The switch to an earlier voting date (June rather than September) for the primary?

Early voting turnout in Harford County was only 3.94% (6,257 votes) of 158,858 registered voters, per the elections website

Some states (Oregon and Washington) have implemented postal voting to help increase participation in elections. What methods or ideas would you propose to increase voter turnout?

Comments

  1. none says

    People realize that their vote doesn’t count when Baltimore City, Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties settle the race. Besides it was a given that it would come down to Hogan against Brown and the above three will elect Brown as our next taxing leader.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 28 Thumb down 11
  2. NOTSOBIGQ says

    Why would anyone in Harford waste there time voting when they’d rather be working? The welfare counties can go vote who cares. The candidates who have spent the time and built a name will elect the few that find a free minute to vote.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 16
  3. Former Republican says

    I’m surprised that the turnout was over 20%. What difference does it make to vote, you’re just choosing one developers’ pet over another.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 9
  4. Phil says

    until Mike Miller and Mike Bush are defeated, retire, or die – most Maryland has now realized we are their slaves and the vote of slaves don’t count.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 21 Thumb down 10
  5. kaz says

    I always vote but it is an effort especially when you continually hear about what lengths candidates’ campaigns will go to to get elected such as the incident in Mississippi. No elected official no matter how long in an elected position is entitled to the seat. And here in Maryland, my vote rarely counts because of three counties…. Baltimore City, Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties. Maryland is a state that enables! So many of us work hard and our hands are tied as Maryland elected officials continue to dig into our pockets. I keep waiting for the economy!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 7
  6. Freestate? says

    None and Phil are right. Miller and Bush will control the latest tax and spend puppet.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 6
  7. Deb in Bel Air says

    With absentee ballots and early voting in place, there is absolutely no excuse not to vote, yet apathy abounds. Balt. city, Mont. county and PG county determine the elections? Maybe so, but there are voters now from all walks of life who are more disgruntled than ever before. Be part of the process to bring about change. Get involved, do your homework and choose a candidate to support and volunteer to help. Running for office is not easy. Change is not easy. But to be certain, change will not happen without a lot of effort.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 22 Thumb down 2
  8. Keith Gabel says

    One option that could make the primaries more interesting is to make them non-partisan, like the Board of Education elections. Whichever two candidates get the most votes, regardless of party, get to face each other in November.

    What made me think of this were the number of comments already that implied the reason for not voting in the Republican primary is that few of the candidates had any appeal to the majority of voters in the state. This could change that a bit, as it forces every candidate to campaign for every vote, including those of a different party.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 18 Thumb down 2
    • I second that says

      As one of a growing percentage of voters who prefer not to be affiliated with any political party, I strongly agree.

      Well-loved. Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1
  9. K says

    In this last go around, we had primaries and voted for many local candidates; school board, central committees, clerk of the court, sheriff, etcetera. Many of the current elected employees ran unopposed. A number of incumbents who should have been voted out were chosen again. The Republican Central Committee, for example, had people chosen who have ties to current elected employees with an agenda such as HB 1513. I must also include the notion that there were many candidates that ran whose hearts and minds were really interested in making Harford County, our local school board, and the State of Maryland a better place to live, work, and be educated. Unfortunately, due to the extremely low turnout of registered voters, plus the well greased political machines being run by their minions, we have once again, what everyone complains about, are the same folks put back into office or the same elected employees running for their same position(s). Thankfully, we did elect some fresh faces with new ideas, just not enough. I know a great man, who many of you that will read this also know, who left Maryland and headed to South Carolina. He told me shortly after I began working with him for a big time federal elected employee that Maryland is a lost cause. I didn’t believe him then, I was way too idealistic and thought, “Oh surely with the right candidates, We The People can affect change.” I’m now packing up the family for a move down south to a gorgeous locale that has no state income tax. Until people involved in politics, candidates and those that vote for them, stop being pawns, this state will continue its decline into oblivion. Those that don’t even utilize their constitutional rights? What can one say…..

    Well-loved. Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3
    • MD is lost says

      Maryland is lost. I did not vote in the primary because I changed my affiliation to independent. The way things are going, just to be in a certain party will get you audited. Time to hide under a rock and vote only in the general.

      Well-loved. Thumb up 12 Thumb down 7
  10. K says

    I suppose I never answered The Dagger’s question. Somehow, probably through lots of talking to our neighbors, those we meet at convenience stores, bars, etcetera, we let them know that it’s cool to vote, it’s our constitutional right and obligation. Plus, if a person doesn’t vote, they will have their wages garnished, entitlement checks halted and so on (most others give lines of b.s., why not try it our selves).

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5
  11. noble says

    I would like anyone with a reason not to vote to stand face to face with a veteran, or a civil rights leader/advocate, and give your reason. To me, every reason I’ve ever heard not to bother voting sounds pretty pathetic when given in that context.

    Also, while it is certain that three large areas to our south have general control of our state and state wide elections, they have no say in what’s happening in Harford County, and 80% of the ballot was local candidates and offices.

    Most of your daily life is impacted more by local county government than by the State, so why on earth would people not take the time to vote on those offices?

    Even when people are unopposed, showing up and voting but purposely not casing a vote for that candidate can send a message that they aren’t doing something right.

    There are no good reasons not to vote.

    And early voting is a gigantic waste of money. 4%? Are there even any more people voting, or are the people who would always have voted just voting more conveniently? Idiotic idea.

    I think the best way to increase voting numbers is to move it to Wednesdays, make it a holiday and given people off of work, and create a “tailgating” or “cook out” atmosphere around election day.

    Americans are suckers for an excuse to grill.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1
  12. says

    It is very disappointing to see the numbers of folks who did not vote in the primary on Tuesday. I however do understand to a point. People are sick and tired of party politics. Voters see so many elected officials who govern only to get reelected and do not put the people first. If you are a Democrat, Republicans are not the enemy. If you are a Republican, Democrats are not the enemy. Apathy is the enemy! I am afraid that this is the reason so many stayed away Tuesday.
    However, we cannot allow apathy to be an excuse. Winners do not use excuses, only losers and quitters do. We as a generation are the first to turn the country and state over to the next generation in worse shape then we inherited it. For that we should be ashamed. How will history look back on us? Will we be the generation that when confronted to fix this mess we chose to roll over and give up? Or will we be the generation who stood tall and took on this challenge. The generation who said together we can fix this mess! I hope and pray that we all come together under leadership that never says quit.
    Our country has been through far worse over the years. We have survived two World Wars, a Great Depression, and worst of all a Civil War and we came out stronger. Those before us never gave up. They were strong and they fought and died for what we enjoy. We not only owe it to them to stand up and take back our government; we owe it to the next generation. This is why I chose to run for state delegate. It is not in me to say I quit. I can’t tuck my kids in at night knowing that I did not put up a fight. I can’t walk by a veteran knowing that I quit on my country when they needed me. I hope there are more who think the way I do. I know there are and they are waiting for somebody to stand with them. They are waiting for leaders with a vision of how we can do this. I have some ideas but by no means do I have all the answers. But together we can make a powerful voice that will be heard echoing in the chambers of the Maryland State House in January.
    Our campaign is about to launch an app for your phone, tablet, or home computer that will give you the people, the power over government that we once had. The founding fathers intended for the government to fear the people. Today the people fear the government. Tomorrow that all changes. The app is called VoterPowerMD, and it will change the way we do government in our state. In minutes, using the app you will be able to have access to bills in the legislature before they are voted on; the same bills that they introduce and vote on, right on your phone, tablet, or computer. No longer can the media filter the information you see or determine what you see. No longer are you dependent on a political party or politician to tell you what you should think. VoterPowerMD gives you direct unfettered access so you can think for your self and make your voice heard. It can’t be just one voice however; we need to get this out to thousands of people statewide so that voice becomes a roar! We will be launching on Monday July 7th. More details are coming very soon. The days of government operating under the cloak of darkness are over. They will know that you are watching. They will know that you are participating. They will know that you are demanding that they serve the people and not their own interests.
    It is a new day. I hope you will join me in taking back our state. More details will be coming at our website (www.mikeblizzard.com) and Facebook page. (Stand Tall with Mike Blizzard) We are rising up a powerful force of people who want to restore our state and country. We are rising up a force that refuses to quit. We are rising up a force that cannot be contained any longer. We can do this…but it takes us all to reach out to our neighbors and join together. Don’t let the media divide us any longer. Don’t let politicians divide us for one more day. Don’t let political parties make enemies of our neighbors. Most of us share the same common ground that includes freedom, liberty, an opportunity to control our destiny and a chance to reach our American Dream. That dream will live on in our country and in our state. You can make a difference together Standing Tall with all of us. Let’s get the power out of the back rooms in Annapolis and into the living rooms of all of you.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 15 Thumb down 5
    • The Money Tree says

      An app to vote? Every scheme to supposedly make it easier to vote encourages the shiftless and lazy to participate in greater numbers and now since we apparently are at the shiftless and lazy tipping point in this county not sure making it yet even easier makes this an improvement. If you can’t bother to find a way to vote without somebody spoon feeding it to you I’d rather you didn’t.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7
      • Mike Blizzard says

        The app is not to get people to vote…the app works this way. When a bill is in committee and there is still time for your voice to be heard, and there is an anticipated close vote your phone, tablet, or computer will be dinged. This will let you know that there is something in Annapolis that you may want to know about. The preamble of the bill will appear on your phone. Two paragraphs, 60 seconds of your time. If you are not interested go back to living your life. If it is a subject of importance to you an dyou want to know more it is a simple click to be taken to the entire piece of legislation. You can read the bill in the comfort of your own home without the media, parties, or politician influencing your thought. You make up your own mind. Once you have made up your mind and you want to have your voice heard it is just one more click and up pops every Senator, Delegate, and Executive on your device with their name, phone number, and email address. You don’t even have to dial the number; just click on it and you are instantly connected to their office. Let them know where you stand and how you want them to vote. Later on we will be adding a feature that will tell you how everyone voted on bills you expressed interest in. All of the information and research is brought to you. What would take you hours on hours of research if you knew where to look only takes minutes and is delivered right to your device of choice. VoterPowerMD has nothing to do with voting via an app. We agree people should get up and out to the polls. The app makes you powerful and believe that you can make a difference in how we govern. Our problems are systemic. One new representative will not make much of a difference, but an army of people keeping Annapolis accountable and having thousands of voices heard before a vote takes place will be effective change that we are all looking for. Hopefully this clears up the purpose and function of the app. Thanks

        Well-loved. Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0
        • Libertarian Voter says

          Sounds like a good idea. It would be nice to be kept in the loop about such things without the bias from news outlets.

          Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2
          • says

            You can be kept up to date on the availability of the app and more by liking our facebook page Stand Tall with Mike Blizzard. Tell your friends. The more people who have the app, the more powerful our force is. It is good for folks all over the state from Oakland MD to Ocean City. Thanks

            Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  13. MUFFMOUTHSKI says

    I decided to go to Mexico and vote in their election instead.

    They didn’t ask me for I.D. either.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 6
  14. Phil says

    A couple folks brought up (again) an idea long overdue. Let Independents vote in the primaries. This is the only way to shake things up

    Well-loved. Thumb up 19 Thumb down 3
  15. Hank says

    One thing that would probably help would be to allow registered independent voters vote in the primaries (obviously only in the primary for 1 party, not both.) Among other things this would likely increase voter turnout, but it also would make it more difficult for politicians to cater directly towards the extremes in the primaries. Extremes on the left and on the right are bad, especially when everyone views anyone who disagrees with them slightly as the “enemy” and does everything they can to completely destroy them (and I’m looking mainly at some of the tea party people here, but they’re not the only ones guilty of this.)

    I’ve never missed a general election since I turned 18.

    This was the first primary I’d ever voted in. When I turned 18 I registered as an independent because I didn’t really see myself as a Republican or a Democrat. I don’t really agree with Democrats’ financial policies and I don’t really agree with Republicans’ social policies. After the last election cycle I decided to switch my affiliation to Republican so that I could vote in the primaries (mainly because I fall slightly more to the right than the left on the political spectrum.)

    This country desperately needs a legitimate and moderate 3rd party (either that or a 3rd party pretty far to the left or right that pushes the other party towards the center.) I am sick and tired of listening to the bullshit rhetoric from the extreme right and the extreme right. This country is going down the tubes and part of the reason is that virtually every politician is forced to vote along strict party lines most of the time or get voted out…no matter how ridiculous those party line stances are.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2
    • Hank says

      *That should say “extreme right and extreme left”, not “extreme right and extreme right.”

      Though depending on your view that may not be an entirely inaccurate statement…

      Well-loved. Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1
    • Libertarian Voter says

      There are 4 legitimate 3rd parties: Libertarian, Constitution, Green, and Justice. Folks like you who are tired of choosing between “the lesser of two evils” should check out the party platform of these 4 and register accordingly.

      Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2
      • none says

        The Libertarian, Constitution, Green, and Justice parties and anyone who wastes their vote on them are morons.

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5
  16. mike blizzard says

    They are not forced to….they choose party money for reelection over your interests.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1
  17. Concerned Teacher says

    First off, Montgomery,County, PG County, and Baltimore City do not determine the elections for Harford County offices (County Executive, County Council, Board of Education, Sheriff, state legislature, etc.) so that is an absurd excuse for not voting. Allowing independents to vote in primaries won’t really raise the rate much, as they make up a very small percentage of the registered voter total.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1
    • Keith Gabel says

      According to the State Board of Elections, in this election cycle, non-affiliated and minor party voters account for roughly 17% of Harford County voters. This is more than enough to either give the majority party Republicans a supermajority in local elections or enough to give the Democrats a chance at victory. That alone is enough to turn the primary from ho-hum to worth noting.

      Otherwise, I agree with what you say regarding the absurdity of not voting in a local primary because of how other jurisdictions tend to vote.

      Well-loved. Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2
  18. Libertarian Voter says

    As I’m a registered 3rd party voter, I was not allowed to vote in the primaries. Only 2 candidates ran for my Board of Education district so I didn’t even receive a ballot. Your party affiliation is a guide to your political stance; however, everyone should vote for the best candidate. Independents / 3rd partiers should be allowed to vote in primaries.

    Well-loved. Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2
    • none says

      maybe they can start an independent primary where independents can vote for everyone that’s running.

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  19. Jim Stewart says

    The bias news media in Maryland is a big reason. Along with the appointment of the Heir Apparent to the be the next RULER of Maryland. The new news media both written and transmitted is to bias to the liberals. Nothing a conservative can do ever gets credit it is always to the disadvantage of the poor Liberals. Wake up people you are paying to support your self and another ten with your taxes. Get rid of the liberal and bring back so fiscal control and we would more interest in an election.

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3
    • Concerned Teacher says

      No offense, but the Republicans aren’t all that good at fiscal control either. They just want to spend our money on different things. More importantly, I don’t see how anything in your rant explains in any manner why voter turnout for local primary elections was low.

      Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1
      • mike blizzard says

        I agree that Republicans have not shown much more fiscal constraint. We need to remove the labels and vote for the character of the candidate. I have signed a no tax increase pledge. I have signed a 2 term limit for myself. How would my “rant” as you put it would increase voter turnout? People need to believe that there is a legitimate opportunity for change. They will not turn out for more of the same. The app gives voters a voice, lets Annapolis know that we are watching and will easily be able to hold them accountable. If 30,000-50,000 people have this app and in minutes can have their voices heard before a bill is voted on in committe, that is a powerful force for change. If voters believe they can make a difference than they will show up. Remember apathy is the enemy.

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
        • tickle knots says

          Any politician that will from the outset say things like “not tax increases” and “2 term limit” should not be believed. Politicians will turn a tax increase into a fee, or a permit or a charge or something else to satisfy their base. Gov Ehrlick did it and so did O’Malley. It is also unrealistic to say no tax increases ever. inflation happens to all sectors of the economy. Tax rates are lower now than in the past 30 years and all this railing about high taxes is like saying we always walked uphill. It isn’t true! Property assessments have been down for years and the property tax rate was actually reduced a few times in the past 10 years or so. State income taxes were reduced but sales taxes were increased. Gas taxes have gone up too. I have more of a problem with the growth of government and public benefits. Tax breaks for businesses abound as well and tax dodgers abound. Pretty soon we will be like Greece. Everyone wants something and no one wants to pay for it. Only if the government can pay for it and not charge me a penny more…

          Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  20. Stackers says

    Idea: Everyone votes Democrat. We as a county have never tried it. If we don’t like it we can switch back into this current mess

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3
  21. Nathan Scott says

    I recently emigrated from Australia where it is COMPULSORY to vote. Any registered voter who does not vote gets a letter a few weeks later asking WHY NOT and there are fines for simply not showing up. A few folks do show up and then cast a deliberately useless ballot, but only a few percent. So here is your answer, Mr or Ms Dagger: make voting non-partisan, do it all on one day, and make it compulsory.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
  22. Cable says

    Thomas Jefferson is said to have said, “we get the political leaders that we deserve.” Yes. the state is controlled by Balt City and Montgomery and PG counties, but we have local Harford County officials that deserve voter support. The Harford County turn out is a reflection on Harford Countians.

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  23. bfuzzled says

    I have to accept responsibility for not voting on time, I was working and I lost track of time.

    That said it wasn’t a good experience this year and I have a few comments:

    1) I showed up just before 8pm and because it wasn’t my “designated” polling location (even though it was listed as one of 3 polling in my area, according to the mailer?), I wasn’t allowed. I actually went to 2 different rooms. In one, they didn’t make any mention of Providional Voting which seems like it would violates some statute of the MD State Board of Elections. Aren’t those officials there to ensure as many votes are cast as possible m(correctly)? In the second room, they did mention and encourage me to do so.

    2) I wish the cut-off time was a little more flexible (I was working all day).

    3) MD’s law forcing you to vote along party lines at the governatorial level seems over-reaching to say the least, as many other commenters have mentioned. Is there anyone working on this?

    I kind of new AB would win, but after the mess he made with the MD health website I’m surprised he did so well. Project management and/or accepting responsibility doesn’t seem to be his strong suit. Hopefully, governing the state won’t be as complicated as building a website :!.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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