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Sarasota voters — bah, bah, bad sheep

Good grief. I think I heard on the news today that less than 7% of registered voters in the City of Sarasota bothered to vote in yesterday’s election. On the ballot were the issues of whether to have a strong mayor and which people the citizens of Sarasota want governing them and making laws and decisions that will undoubtedly affect every aspect of their lives.

Sarasota has a population of about 55,000, I think. About 12,600 people voted yesterday. That’s about 22% of the populace. That’s dismal, abysmal, just plain mal — which means “bad” in French!

I guess all those hopeful thoughts that the presidential election would herald a new era of citizens engaging in and taking responsibility for their democracy was a bunch of happy horse-poo. It makes me think back to a column I wrote back in 2006 — a portion of which is excerpted here:
A nation of sheep (originally published September 6, 2006)

Take a bow, Sarasota. You couldn’t get off your couches long enough to even symbolically salute the very tenets of democracy our American soldiers are dying for overseas.

Yeah, you really know how to “support the troops.”

Don’t tell me it’s because it was only a midterm. Don’t tell me it was the day after a long weekend. Don’t tell me anything.

Everything I or anybody else needs to know is what the polls told us.

Sarasota doesn’t vote. Less than 25 percent of registered voters bothered to show up at the polls.

Sarasota’s looking a lot like an electorate of sheep — fluffy, mostly white, benign little cud-chewers — mindlessly derailing democracy.

“A nation of sheep,” Edward R. Murrow predicted, “”will beget a government of wolves.”

Let the bleating begin.

(To read the original column in its entirety, check it out here at Sheepish in Sarasota)

Posted on March 11th, 2009Comments RSS Feed
6 Responses to Sarasota voters — bah, bah, bad sheep
  1. The actual turnout was only 6,840 (!) out of a total of 32,952 registered voters, according to the Supervisor of Elections. You’re right, MC: It’s pathetic.

  2. Thanks for correcting me on the turnout , Coop — I think I was adding total votes, not total voters! It’s kind of astonishing to me that folks — in these times — are so numb to their individual responsibilities and opportunities as citizens in a democracy. But it’s not a real democracy when so few participate. Anyway, thanks for reading the post and for clarifying my blog! Appreciate it.

  3. Stan Zimmerman
    March 12, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    MC: Cooper and I are that new breed of reporters who’ve actually participated actively in elections, either as “mechanics” or “candidates” or both. Frankly low turnouts don’t depress me. Generally speaking, people who follow issues, and have passion for candidates go vote. People who don’t follow issues, feel no passion usually don’t. And that’s peachy by me.

    I have problems with larger-than-normal turnouts, because they’re usually fueled by fear created by hysterical hate-mongers with money to burn. Witness the last-ditch distortions of the elected-mayor campaign this week. And the last minute distortions in the Jono Miller and Joe Barbetta campaigns for county commission. Joe survived by a whisker; Jono (in “their” tutu) went down by a landslide.

    Take your pick –a lower number of knowledgeable and passionate voters, or a higher figure fueled by fears and lies. I’ll take the former anytime. After spending an estimated $100,000 to flood mailboxes and airwaves, the elected mayor campaign didn’t budge the historical turnout figure. Which is why the historical No Boss Mayor landslide swept them aside again (third time in 13 years).

    By an overwhelming margin, Sarasota’s educated and passionate voters were not swayed by superficial campaign rhetoric. Perhaps if they’d spent their $100K on scholarships, we’d all be better off now. Instead we’ve been treated to another few spoonfulls of bile that will take our body politic time to digest and pass out of our system before we can move on. s/Stan Zimmerman

  4. John W. Perkins
    March 14, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Yeah, like Stan said…

    Personally, I’d rather go sailing than be involved in politics these days.


  5. Stan, I will say that low turnout does depress me, but not because I want more uninformed voters flocking to the polls. I just wish more people realized they have a stake in our elections, educated themselves and then cast ballots. Am I sad Joe Moron stayed home last Tuesday? No. Am I sad there are so many Joe Morons out there? Yes.

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