Last week’s elections were — for the most part — quite uneventful. What seemed to dominate headlines, rather was the low voter turnout in Ann Arbor. With many people on summer vacation and even more students living elsewhere this summer, voter turnout was minimal.
Absentee ballots are a way to combat this problem, but unfortunately many students do not seek out this option or are unaware that it exists. However, Ann Arbor City Council makes decisions that have a profound effect on student life, and many of the recipients of these decisions aren’t physically present to voice their opinion for whom they feel represents them the best. City Council elections should be non-partisan and elections should only happen in November so that students have the opportunity to influence decisions that greatly affect them.
Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012, was the primary election day for Ann Arbor residents to vote for city council members, state representatives and state senators. When polls closed on Tuesday, “precinct 1-1 had counted 15 ballots (.77 percent of registered voters). Precinct 1-2 had counted four votes (.49 percent of registered voters). Precinct 4-1 had counted eight ballots (.39 percent of registered voters) while 3-2 had counted 59 ballots (2.79 percent of registered voters).” Low voter turnout is expected, and this year was no exception.
With less than 1 percent of voters voting in many precincts, this past election does not accurately represent the University’s student body. Elections must be pushed back until November, or else Ann Arbor will continue to let a minority of residents determine who will possibly represent them. This isn’t not democracy and it certainly isn’t representative. Changing the day of the election is the simplest way to give students the opportunity to actively contribute to their community.