Followers of Downtown newsmagazine may want to make note that our next issue in July will contain a Voters Guide special section detailing issue positions of any candidates who have opposition in the August 7 primary election, including those running for Congress, Michigan House and Senate and the Oakland County Board of Commissioners. It’s bound to be one of the better read issues that we produce this year.
Our work on the Voters Guide actually began months ago as we hosted periodic meetings with some candidates who had announced they were running for office this year. We are now in the midst of gearing up to produce what could be a 20-page plus special section within our July issue presenting candidates’ answers to questionnaires we sent in early May to about 35 Republican and Democrat contenders whose fate will be determined in party primary voting this August. Winners of these primary contests will face off against opponents in the November general election.
For our small staff, needless to say, this is quite an undertaking but we felt the election this year has taken on a special significance, given the background of an especially charged political atmosphere nation-wide. Additionally, we have a couple of open offices where there is no incumbent in the race this election, and then there are predictions that traditional GOP control over some Oakland County area offices could change hands and go to the Democrats, a trend that has been slowly taking hold in the county over the last decade.
Mind you, we have always considered elections an important event, whether a local contest or a race for a state-level office or for Congress. In the past, we have either interviewed or relied on questionnaires for candidates and we have always posted the results of our work on our website where we generally have 60,000 monthly visitors. This year, we are taking the extra step of providing candidate coverage in our print product, and we are producing it in our July issue because that is when ballots will be distributed to absentee voters, a group that has always had significant influence on the outcome of political party primary elections, and a group that is growing in numbers in all local communities in both the primary and the fall general elections.
Our plans for the August primary election Voter Guide is a good segue into the other key point of my column this month – the importance of a stronger than normal turnout for this election, whether you cast a vote through an absentee ballot or physically at the polls on election day.
Unfortunately, too many registered voters – and others who are eligible but have not bothered to register – do not participate in the primary election process, which in the past has meant that a generally older population has determined the outcome of our representative government. The politicians know this so they focus on those with a track record of voting in past primaries. In Oakland County that has trended in the past towards the Republican party, thanks in large part to how political districts have been carved up by the party in power.
The Democratic party in a number of Oakland County contests in the past has really struggled to field the most worthy of candidates because it has seemed a lost cause. But that is not the case in 2018. You have all no doubt heard talk of a “blue wave” in 2018. Well it is more than just talk – it is here in Oakland and will be determining the outcome of a number of races in November. So your primary vote is critical in determining who will be representing the two major political parties when we get to the November election.
Frankly, I have never understood why voter turnout is not more robust, given the long history of efforts in this country to make voting a right enjoyed by everyone.
When the U.S. Constitution was first written, there really was no definition of who was allowed to vote, so the task of determining eligibility was left up to the states, where in most cases the right of casting a ballot was reserved for white male adults who owned property. Women in most states and men who did not own property generally could not vote.
Eventually the federal government had to take charge over the issue of voting rights because of a patchwork of discriminatory state rules and regulations
Thanks to efforts in the past and a number of post-Civil War amendments to the Constitution, race, color and servitude were eliminated as roadblocks to voting (15th amendment in 1870), as was sex (19th amendment in 1920); prohibitions on “poll tax” and other tax restrictions (24th amendment in 1964); and finally the lowering of age limit to 18 in 1971 (26th amendment).
As a side note, the fight to preserve the voting rights of minorities is still far from done, and there have also been a number of efforts in some states to impose new identification requirements for voters that have all the appearances of attempts to suppress the vote, mostly along party lines – the battle over the right to vote still continues. But you get my drift – considerable effort has gone into enshrining our right to vote.
So it is inexcusable to not participate in the upcoming August primary. You have until July 9 to register to vote and you have until a few days before the election to request an absentee ballot.
Make sure your vote counts.