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An outline of the voting precincts in St. Louis County marked
Ferguson's voting precincts in St. Louis County. These precincts went 83 percent for Obama in 2008.

A consistent subplot to the horrors in Ferguson over the past week has been a consistent sense of wonder at how a city that has, over the past two decades, become a majority-black community could have a white mayor, a majority-white city council, and an almost universally white police force.

That wonder emanates from two simple facts: the city's population is more than two-thirds African American, and the voting precincts that make up the greater Ferguson area are overwhelmingly black and Democratic. And yet the political power structure in the city is white, and the mayor is not only white, he is a Republican.

As two must-read articles (one by Ian Millhiser of Think Progress, the other by Jeff Smith in the New York Times) affirm, the answer, in part, is electoral politics.

It would not be a stretch to say that municipal elections, in no small part, are rigged. Not in the classic "stolen election" sense, of course, but rigged in the sense that a number of factors, chief among them their scheduling, of all things, ensure that political change comes to communities at a snail's pace, if at all.

Please read more on this story below the fold.

As Millhiser writes:

If you compared the racial makeup of Ferguson, Missouri’s population as a whole to that of its government, it would be easy to mistake the city for an enclave of Jim Crow. Although nearly 70 percent of Ferguson is black, 50 of its 53 police officers are white. So are five of Ferguson’s six city council members. The mayor, James Knowles, is a white Republican.

Ferguson can help ensure that its leaders more closely resemble its population, however. They just need to hold their elections at a time when voters are actually likely to show up.

To explain, a major contributor to the disparity between Ferguson’s population demographics and that of its leaders is Ferguson’s unusual elections calendar.

The only flaw in Millhiser's spot-on lede is that Ferguson is not actually all that unusual.

Most municipalities hold their elections apart from the "traditional" electoral calendar for state and federal elections. As an example, here in my backyard, the LA city mayoral calendar saw Democrat Eric Garcetti elected in May of 2013. Some municipalities make a slight bow to tradition, holding their elections in November, but insisting on holding them in those odd-numbered years where there are no competing state or federal elections in all but a handful of states.

On the surface, it makes little sense. After all, with most cities and communities perpetually cash strapped, what is the acceptable rationale for deciding to schedule elections in such a way that it incurs the expense of an additional and separate election? Costs will, of course, vary with size (as one representative example, the Arizona city of Prescott, with only about 25,000 registered voters, spends about $65,000 to administer their elections). So, why would these municipalities willingly hang onto a schedule that requires them to fund more elections than absolutely necessary?

The answer, as Jeff Smith is quick to point out, is power and money:

Many North County towns — and inner-ring suburbs nationally — resemble Ferguson. Longtime white residents have consolidated power, continuing to dominate the City Councils and school boards despite sweeping demographic change. They have retained control of patronage jobs and municipal contracts awarded to allies.
By leaving municipal elections as stand-alone dates, these communities ensure that their own municipal elections are stunningly low turnout affairs. As Millhiser noted, turnout in Ferguson in the last municipal elections was a putrid 11.7 percent of registered voters. This is not unique to Ferguson: last year's spate of municipal elections in my home county of Los Angeles drew 11.9 percent of registered voters to the polls.

In low turnout affairs, allies of the incumbent power structure have an inherent edge because they have a vested interest (and financial resources, courtesy of those patronage jobs and city contracts) in preserving the community political hierarchy. Therefore, they can swamp any upstart candidates financially, leaving the existing structure in place.

What's more, as Millhiser noted, the disparity between municipal turnout and, say, presidential turnout had a clear racial component to it, as well:

Turnout is especially low among Ferguson’s African American residents, however. In 2013, for example, just 6 percent of eligible black voters cast a ballot in Ferguson’s municipal elections, as compared to 17 percent of white voters.

(...)

Fifty-four percent of Ferguson’s African American voters turned out in November of 2012, as opposed to 55 percent of whites. Admittedly, 2012 may have been an unusually high year for African American turnout in Ferguson, given President Obama’s presence on the ballot, but even if black turnout typically fell 20 points behind white turnout in a presidential year, that would still be better than the 3 to 1 disparity during the April municipal elections.

The two authors actually prescribe quite different remedies for this phenomenon. Millhiser suggests a referendum changing the electoral calendar, while Smith advocates for municipal consolidation of these stagnant or declining inner ring suburban cities to change the electoral calculus. Either method would be preferable, of course, to a status quo that it must be argued is at least a contributory factor to the horrors we have witnessed in St. Louis County over the past week.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 10:42 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Off cycle AND (24+ / 0-)

    non partisan races

    This is the recipe for greater middle class married middle aged white turnout, suppressed turnout by working people.

    These were reforms that backfired. As the more recent term limit reform backfired. (Though I think the initial proponents knew exactly what they were doing. After all, the meme started with Republicans angry that New Deal Roosevelt was reelected four times.)

    One more issue, not in Ferguson but in the South is a very small number of district representatives in local government. Most are "at-large" to favor wealthier (and whiter) voting blocs.

    They also typically have "town managers" and so on to put a layer of unanswerable management bureaucracy in to further disenfranchise the poor and working class who don't "run into" the city manager on the golf course or otherwise rub shoulders with these folks.

    *More districts, less voters per district for aldermen/councillors/whatever you call the reps

    *on cycle elections

    *party primaries, party identification

    *elimination of term limits

    *city business should be run by city elected officials on official business, not operated in secret by "charter officers", "managers", city attorneys and other proxies

    •  Say what?--Are u pissing on the Go(od)Go(ovenment) (3+ / 0-)

      movement?

      It works especially well in the VA DC suburbs.

       It has allowed us to  modernize the Byrd Machine & scream, "But, dude, ya' know, GOGO," & win primaries & local elections with single digit turn-out.

      This enabled the Rethugs to  out-moblize us in VA's off-year state-wide elections for over a decade & effectively  control redistricting.

      "Get in the way. Create chaos. Cause trouble. " "On global warming there is no more time to change the Overton Window. We have to break it."

      by sturunner on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:44:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Isn't It Derisively "GooGoo?" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sturunner, Mimikatz

        And here I recall listening to all of the conservatives refer to this efforts as "GooGoo" policies.  If they had been "Go Go" programs I'm sure the conservatives would never have opposed them in the first place.

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:12:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Idea Started (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RosyFinch, Woody

        By the League of Women Voters in the 60's.  I know, my mom was a part of it.  This was supposed to get deal making out of government. Government wouldn't be run on a day to day basis by inexperienced councilpersons, but by a hired, experienced City Manager who is not as subject to political pressures.  In most cases this works out very well.  How often do you hear about graft and corruption in suburban communities as opposed to central cities?  I think this has overall worked out well.  If people don't like their City Council, they can easily vote it out.  Because if the turnout is that low, it ought to be relatively easy to get an unrepresented group out to vote against the minority bosses and turn the bastards out.

        •  Just because you don't hear about it (0+ / 0-)

          doesn't mean it's not happening. The smaller the town, the less outsiders care. Also, the more potential for theft without detection by either staffers or elected officials.

          I've worked for municipal governments with strong mayors and strong city managers and I'll take the strong mayor, please.

    •  Exactly! As told in song: (8+ / 0-)

      The Boys in The Back Room

      by Chuck Brodsky

      The boys in the back room
       Who use to run the city
       Anyway they wanted to
       They were stealing from the kitty
       Stomping out their cigars
       Any place they wanted to
       What you could go to jail for
       They could do in front of you

      The boys in the back room
       Sat on the commissions
       That were supposed to regulate
       Factory emissions
       Toxins in the air
       Toxins in the water
       These were our protectors
       They were sanctioning the slaughter

      The boys in the back room
       Didn't like attention
       Drawn to their activities
       Which the paper never mentioned
       Thanks to the editor
       Who was a good ol'  friend of theirs
       So was the police chief
       And also the developers

      The boys in the back room
       Went golfing every Sunday
       They had a game of pinochle
       That happened every Monday
       Tuesdays were the meetings
       Where the public was invited
       Where they went through all the motions
       But no wrongs were ever righted

      The boys in the back room
       On Wednesdays traded favors
       They had a secret handshake
       And other such behavior
       They fixed traffic tickets
       Granted exemptions and waivers
       Awarded city contracts
       To associates and neighbors

      The boys in the back room
       Were desperate to hold on
       Assassinating characters
       Of whoever might've told on them
       But the day did finally come
       When they stood before a jury
       Some were sent to prison
       It was a one paragraph story

      The boys in the back room
       Who just used to make the rules
       Any way they wanted to
       They thought they still had the people fooled

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:46:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  30 seconds in (0+ / 0-)

        since the embed code doesn't seem to offer me a time  option.

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:10:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  i'm guessing... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lgmcp

        I'm guessing that these are not the lyrics to the Marlene Dietrich song of the same name.  

        •  So much so that if I neglect (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RosyFinch

          to add "Brodsky" to my search string, even adding " -Dietrich" isn't enough to get it onto the first few pagea of results.  

          Obscure liberal folksinger from New England, with a specialty in quirky songs of baseball history ... versus international glamor icon ....

          "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

          by lgmcp on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 02:17:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Agree with most of that (7+ / 0-)

      Term limits are a disaster in practice that unfortunately have a nice ring to it to people of all political persuasions who are generally only thinking about people they dislike. In Ohio it was an idea most definitely pushed by a shady right-right-right wing group, way to the right of the Tea Party. It has been a debacle in practice, one of the factors creating a legislature of stunning ignorance and venality where ALEC, the NRA, Ohio Right to Life, and the for-profit charter school owners are basically writing the laws.

      District/ward consolidation is something else I see being  pushed a lot here, and when you scratch the surface, you usually find wealthy corporate interests who prefer to have fewer people who need more money to get elected and who can more easily be made beholden.

      Concealing partisan ID is one more way to keep voters ill-informed and unaware of candidates' real agendas. We have it here in Ohio for judges — but only in the general election. They run in partisan primaries. Considering  that the biggest asset in winning a judicial race is a female Irish name, party ID could only be beneficial to the selection of judges. Political philosophy is a much better marker than an Irish father.

      The only one I'm not entirely in agreement with is elimination of city managers in favor of mayors. We have 57 municipalities in this county, and I don't see one system being better than the other. I've seen elected mayors use their positions to consolidate power. And here where I live in Cleveland Heights, we have a city manager hired by the city council (which elects a mayor from among its number, a job that is largely honorary). There's nothing  secret about it. They take applications, make public the names of the finalists, and hire a pro. In a city that is around 50/50 racially (a little more white than black), that currently is a black woman.

      But then there's this (from WikiPedia): "In the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama defeated John McCain 84.2%-15.0%, while in the 2004 presidential election, John Kerry defeated George W. Bush 80.8%-18.8% in the city. In 2012, every precinct in the city was carried by Barack Obama."

      On the downside, Darrell Issa came from here. But he left a long time ago and we don't claim him.

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

      by anastasia p on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:55:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Take him back please!!!! (0+ / 0-)
      •  The problem with term limits (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        essjay, elfling, Woody

        is partly in their implementation. They are almost always set too short ... way too short. This ensures destruction of institutional knowledge, effectively handing the reins to lobbyists.

        Modest term limits, say 20 years, would blunt the effect of career corruptionists while leaving room for retaining institutional knowledge.

        •  I 100% agree. Term limits enables the lobbyists... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Theodicy, Woody

          I 100% agree. Term limits enables the lobbyists to be the only ones in the room who have institutional knowledge and therefore control the conversation. Here in Nebraska we have term limits for one reason, to kick the duly elected Ernie Chambers out of office. White people hated him, but his district kept voting him back in, so the only thing to do was term limit him out. Disaster all around.

      •  Geez. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MPociask, Theodicy, Woody

        If you support any type of partisan political election for judges, you are sadly misinformed and misguided.  If you want legal fees to go up to cover campaign contributions and lawyers to control the courts, well, just look at Mississippi and Texas.  Perhaps you should look at the Colorado model.  It gets politics out of the picture as much as possible.  It works.  I know as I've been on the political, nominating and performance review sides of this and it has resulted in a judiciary that I now think clearly outshines the Federal judiciary in this state.

    •  Middle class people also work! If there is a (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MPociask

      bigger percent of unemployed in the AF community, then there is no excuse for not voting.

      I also think there is no excuse for not voting - it's mostly voluntary.

      When I worked in an office, I had to vote before or after work since my voting place was not near my office. I chose to go in the evening, but I voted! People took their kids, if they had no one to leave them with.

      You want change, you vote. I'm certain that many people who find reasons not to vote, find time to do other things that are not nearly as important.

      People died for the right to vote. Not voting is a sin against those martyrs.
      Sure, if I had my way, voting would be in the Spring, when the weather across the country is milder and more predictable. Maybe on the weekend or for more than one day. But it is what it is - at least for now.

      Deal with it and vote to get the power you want.

      It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

      by auapplemac on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 02:59:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Mixed bag (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling

      While moving the city elections on-cycle would be a good move, I'm not convinced that making the elections partisan would be an improvement.  On the contrary, keeping city government non-partisan has allowed city governments where I live (north Texas) to remain functional by keeping partisan politics away from the city level.  I shudder to think what will happen if we start seeing city councils selected through partisan Republican primaries...

      And do we really want to suggest that minority voters are so unmotivated and uninformed that they can't figure out who to vote for unless there is a "D" or "R" after each candidate? That seems, well, just a touch racist and condescending to me.

      If Democrats proclaim the the Earth is round and Republicans insist it is flat, we will shortly see a column in the Washington Post claiming the the earth is really a semi-circle.

      by TexasTom on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 05:46:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They're not unmotivated (0+ / 0-)

        but they have lives, kids (I'm talking about our working poor in general here, color has nothing to do with it). Labor organizations used to reach these people but look at organized labor penetration these days. Just because candidates aren't labeled doesn't mean stuff doesn't go down in the back rooms. Jungle primaries are rife with shenanigans and research shows that they depress votes.

        Don't believe me? Look at California, which just adopted that system statewide. Horribly low turnout.

        DeBlasio could NEVER have become mayor of New York City in a jungle primary system.

        Non partisan (wink wink) may work for comfortable middle class married homeowners who still turn out to these contests. These are the people who know the actual affiliations of the candidates and may have donated to their campaigns. They get a choice of candidates with the several thousands needed to send bulk mailings to their owner occupied neighborhoods who support the status quo and not raising their taxes, while quietly shunting city services their way and keeping the poor away from their doorstep. This may work fine in an income segregated bedroom suburb but it really stinks in an area with significant poverty. The electorate is straight up disenfranchised because they don't have the money or connections to play.

  •  Hello Democratic party of MO (24+ / 0-)

    There is a very large missed opportunity going on here in Ferguson and other surrounding communiites. Hopefully some new candidates can be recruited or step forward, and GOTV operations can take place.

    Thanks for the diary.

    •  You would think the MO Democratic Party would (8+ / 0-)

      be motivated to get these voters involved to help with statewide races.

      "Because I am a river to my people."

      by lordcopper on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:40:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There are no statewide (4+ / 0-)

        races in April.  Those are in November.

        Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

        by TomP on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:41:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  See my comment about VA above. (0+ / 0-)

          Same game.

          I'm guessing the Dem caucuses in the VA legislature have one of the lowest state/ province turnover-rates in the WORLD.

          "Get in the way. Create chaos. Cause trouble. " "On global warming there is no more time to change the Overton Window. We have to break it."

          by sturunner on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:57:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  All I meant is that these are potential Democratic (4+ / 0-)

          votes that could help the Democratic Party statewide, in any election.  There needs to be the appropriate investment to get these citizens involved in the electoral process.

          "Because I am a river to my people."

          by lordcopper on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:06:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The party organization itself is suspect (7+ / 0-)

            Part of the reason Jay Nixon cannot assert control is that he's so offended African-American voters — over many years, essentially by making his career at their expense — that he has no reservoir of goodwill upon which to draw in this crisis. This diary has a few sentences that give a tiny window into Jay Nixon's political origins and partly explain his abominable relationship with black voters.  As it stands now, I'd venture that most residents of Ferguson feel about the governor the way their state senator expressed last week.  

            The Democratic Party's problem is that this isn't confined to Jay Nixon.  The county attorney (McCullogh?) is just as suspect.  Dynamics like these never cease at the top, they trickle down through the entire organization.  Because of all this entrenched racism in the party, the party has no credibility to mount the type of appeal among black voters to which you refer.  

            Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

            by Big River Bandido on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:26:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  McCullogh has got to go. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              essjay, Theodicy

              I get the feeling he's behind the strategy here to prevent justice from happening. If they really wanted peace, they would just arrest this skinhead Wilson. It is awe-inspiringly classic what they are doing to try to insulate this psychopath.

              "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." —John Kenneth Galbraith

              by eyeswideopen on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:36:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Does it really matter? (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MPociask, Odysseus, auapplemac, Helknaur

          To avoid this kind of tragedy again, the black community but others as well in Ferguson need to make sure that every single eligible voter votes for new city leadership from top to bottom.  Only when that message is heard loud an clear will there be a different attitude develop. Why?  Not because racial differences and divisions will go away overnight, but because the power structure will learn that if things don't change it will be their asses on the line and not just young men like Michael Brown.  

          This community and others deserve change, real change, not just hope for change.  If there are to be more protests, let them be held with voter registration drives so that the message gets sent loud and clear.  Only when every eligible young black man is a voter who demands change, will change actually come.  There is no way that given the demographics of Ferguson will it be possible for the powers to be hide or deny that may votes.  Marching in the streets may release momentary outrage at this injustice, but only when such injustice leads to real consequences will the problem be solved.  Let us work to make sure that the black vote in Ferguson reaches 100%, so the message that justice needs to be done is made clear, very clear to ALL, especially FOX News and other right wing hate groups that feed off of spawning hatred and racial division.

          •  You have my vote, Velvetfish.... (0+ / 0-)
            "Only when every eligible young black man is a voter who demands change, will change actually come.  There is no way that given the demographics of Ferguson will it be possible for the powers to be hide or deny that may votes.  

            Marching in the streets may release momentary outrage at this injustice, but only when such injustice leads to real consequences will the problem be solved. "

            It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

            by auapplemac on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 03:07:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Can people vote if they're a convicted felon (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick, duckhunter, dconrad, Woody

    They vote in completely off year. People feel disenfranchised & act accordingly; they don't vote.

    If you're owned; you don't vote.

    I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

    by a2nite on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 10:59:55 AM PDT

    •  That people who have served out a sentence (13+ / 0-)

      are not automatically allowed to vote is a crime and I cannot believe that it is legal under the Constitution.

      Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

      by Anne Elk on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:59:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It isn't... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MPociask, Woody

        Yeah, the 154th amendment "except for participation in rebellion, or other crime " blah bah... there is no way that the creators of that amendment, radical abolitionists, would have EVER wanted that amendment to have been construed in a way to deny civil rights to African Americans the way it is now..  If we ever get a liberal supreme court back, the current interpretation of the 15th amendment should be immediately challenged. It's total BS.

        "I know you cannot force people to care. Ukraine is far away for many, all have own problems. But even if cynical, realize problem will grow. It isn't only people like me, raised in a dictatorship, who don't want it to happen to others"-Gary Kasparov

        by LordMike on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:26:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just stop right there. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          saluda, auapplemac

          Throwing one's hands up and whining is NOT a solution to this problem.  A black vote that comes in at 100% in the next city elections will.  Nothing else will do the trick.  The result has to be a massive repudiation of how the city has handled this incident.

          Stop whining, stop screaming and start getting effective.  Its well past time.

        •  whoops... I meant the 14th amendment... (0+ / 0-)

          Interesting typo....

          "I know you cannot force people to care. Ukraine is far away for many, all have own problems. But even if cynical, realize problem will grow. It isn't only people like me, raised in a dictatorship, who don't want it to happen to others"-Gary Kasparov

          by LordMike on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 02:30:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  a2nite, MO is better than FLduh, shockingly. (6+ / 0-)

      "Voting rights restored automatically upon completion of sentence, including prison, parole, and probation in Missouri."
      nonprofitvote

      "He went to Harvard, not Hogwarts." ~Wanda Sykes
      Teh Twitterz, I'z awn dem.
      Blessinz of teh Ceiling Cat be apwn yu, srsly.

      by OleHippieChick on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:07:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If you have served your time, or have been paroled (7+ / 0-)

      and are no longer "on papers" you can vote in MO.

      Thing is, there is a widespread belief that convicted felons are prohibited from voting, period.  It varies from state to state.  In some states convicted felons lose the privilege all together, in Maine and Vermont incarcerated felons may vote absentee.

      Republicans have made some effort to spread the false notion that all convicted felons are prohibited from voting.  During voter protection training in St. Louis City we were warned to keep our ears open for whisper campaigns and rumors to the effect that individuals who have not paid their child support and individuals who may have a warrant out for their arrest are prohibited from voting and/or will be picked up if they go to the polls by awaiting officers.

      The worst thing about St. Louis is Missouri.

      by duckhunter on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:55:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Also, even in states where they can vote (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Theodicy, Woody

      the idea is out there that they have permanently lost that right, an idea some probably do little to change. Voter registration workers in the inner city here have heard this from people recently home from prison. One was even told by someone that they were told as they left prison that they could not register to vote.

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

      by anastasia p on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 02:01:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why is the white vote higher. Are they somehow (0+ / 0-)

      smarter? What do they know that the AA community doesn't?

      If people feel disenfranchised, they should get over it, since it does them no good. You can't buy into the numbing belief of victimhood. MLK sure didn't!
      Let  people think they're victims and most will behave that way. However, there are others who shake it off and take steps to change things.

      If Obama or other black leaders fell for the victimhood meme, they would never have advanced as far as they did.

      As Rober Kennedy said, "There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?"

      VOTE! Regardless of when, what time or what the weather is. Just VOTE!

      It’s the Supreme Court, stupid! Followed by: It's always the Supreme Court! Progressives will win only when we convince a majority that they, too, are Progressive.

      by auapplemac on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 03:18:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another good reform (18+ / 0-)

    Make all elections all vote-by-mail. Just like in WA and OR and CO. Everybody gets a ballot for every election. Turnout for the poor, the disenfranchised and the working class will go up. And it's actually cheaper than manning voting booths.

    •  Many people in the Ferguson area rely on (5+ / 0-)

      public transportation to get to and from their jobs. They often cannot get to the polls in time to vote, or their voting sites don't have enough machines to allow for the number of people trying to get in at the end of the day. They close the polls at 7 and send people away who are waiting in line to vote.
      Vote-by-mail would definitely be an improvement, but TPTB like things the way they are.

      This comment is a natural product. The slight variations in spelling and grammar enhance its individual character and beauty and in no way are to be considered flaws or defects.

      by blue muon on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:27:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sending away voters is illegal (10+ / 0-)

        Not saying it doesn't happen BUT if you are in line by 7PM you are supposed to get to vote.  I am an election supervisor and that is how I run my place - the way the law states.  Try to close me down and we are going to get the 'officials' and media involved.

        Wish there were more, strong election officials.  I hear horror stories every class.  If you help run the polling places then do it - let's help everyone vote!

        •  IIRC, they've kept them open in the past (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MPociask, TrueBlueDem

          in St. Louis area, when lines were long.  As expected, it usually occurs in the minority communities and the GOP usually screams bloody murder about it.

          Here ya go, from 2000

          THE 2000 ELECTIONS: THE SWING STATES; Judge Delays Closing of Polls in St. Louis Amid Unexpectedly Heavy Turnout

          Looks like the Freepers were upset.

          Let's be honest, here.  Missouri's Dem Party,  like many other purple midwestern states are now decaying in the backwater of the national Dem Party.  Since Howard Dean was forced out, the DNC ignores these state party organizations, draining money and resources. They don't even work any longer with local Dem parties during midterms.

          State parties don't have a lot of money these days for party building, modernization and other activities.  No one in DC seems to give 2 shits until this stuff arises.

          Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

          by Betty Pinson on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:17:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  That isn't usually an issue (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus

          The amount of time a working person, especially with a family, can spend standing in line IS an issue. Ohio 2004. That and not some fictional Karl Rove war room in Chattanooga where he was allegedly flipping votes on electronic machines that weren't being used in Ohio that year is why John Kerry most likely lost Ohio.

          Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

          by anastasia p on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:58:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Well, there are plenty of obstacles and excuses (0+ / 0-)

        but in the end the only thing that matters is that they are overcome.  Shouldn't that saying "we shall overcome" actually mean something or have we just all got soft and too comfortable to really give a damn about what is happening here with unequal justice and the militarization of the police?

        •  But it never ends, thus America is never just (0+ / 0-)

          The rich will simply create new obstacles, new lies, new front groups, new scapegoats for driving down wages.  No matter how big a disaster they create, in a few years they're stronger than ever.  Eventually they wear us down and seize power with technologies that our Constitution cannot deal with.

          At some point, we have to call them what they are: our enemy.  How long are we supposed to live with an enemy that has infinite resources to hire schemers to plot against us?

    •  Another plus for mail-in ballots, is that volun... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PassionateJus, spacecadet1

      Another plus for mail-in ballots, is that volunteers can check which mail-in ballots have been completed against party voter list, And call up or knock on the door of those who haven't returned their ballots yet. It's a good wait for activist to increased turnout.

    •  Wonderful idea, state legislature is R, (7+ / 0-)

      never happen.  The answer is getting involved in local races.  The votes are there.  I think people may see a reason now to vote in April elections.

      Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

      by TomP on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:42:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Strike while the iron is hottest. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TomP, MPociask

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:47:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Absolutely. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TomP, PassionateJus

        Get everyone involved at every level of government, every aspect of voting in elections. Volunteer for manning the polls, the works. Every single aspect of elections and government. This could change everything.

        I would love to see vote by mail become national. We should be able to get it at least for federal elections, shouldn't we?

        "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." —John Kenneth Galbraith

        by eyeswideopen on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:59:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Dems should offer buses, or there should be a (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TomP

        national non profit (hopefully some wealthy Dems could put up some money to create a foundation) specifically tasked with the issues of getting people registered and then to the polls.

        You can't make this stuff up.

        by David54 on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:18:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Just because (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TrueBlueDem

        it won't happen overnight doesn't mean that people should give up on themselves and their fellow citizens.  Mobilize, unite, anticipate all the problems and overcome them.  Then and only then will things change.  Lamentations really don't have any place on a site that is dedicated to community activism and progressive thinking.

    •  Along with vote-by-mail, another reform (6+ / 0-)

      that Washington implemented is to limit the number of election dates.  ALL elections must be held on one of four dates during the year:  one in February, one in April, the primary (in August), and general election in November.

      This was done largely as a cost-cutting measure (limiting the number of special elections), but has the added benefit that local authorities can't create low-turnout elections on odd dates.

      The February and April dates allow some flexibility for schools and other districts that need funding measures. Local candidates are all on the August/November election schedule, though not necessarily in the same year, and statewide ballot measures must be on the November ballot.

  •  Ballot Fatigue (16+ / 0-)

    There is a disadvantage to holding all elections in November of even numbered years. The ballots simply become too long, especially if there are a number of ballot measures to be decided as well as offices to be filled. Long ballots mean that many people become overwhelmed by the number of choices they make, and either don't vote at all or don't complete the ballot, and the municipal offices come after the national and state offices. It also increases the time people spend in the voting booth, leading to longer lines, more frustration and some who give up and go home. There are other ways of increasing voter participation, including more early voting opportunities and more voting by mail.

    •  This is a very good point (7+ / 0-)

      It is legitimate to want some separation of town/county issues from statewide and federal races. Lumped all together under our current election $$$ystem, local issues and officials become invisible and accountability will be even further reduced.

      The Democratic Party needs desperate rebuilding in many places, including Missouri. The current slant towards Republicans in many local elections, even where the demographics are incredibly favorable to Democrats, is a direct result of lack of effort and lack of investment. I'd rather see the party put in the sweat equity to achieve long-term results than to chase the virtually impossible goal of undoing hundreds or thousands of local election cycles that have been in place for decades or centuries.

      The sinners are much more fun...

      by TrueBlueDem on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:38:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  democrats need to educate voters (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happymisanthropy

        about issues and about candidates.

        but they are in on the corruption themselves so....

        •  Which ones? (5+ / 0-)

          The local elected officials who are putting in long hours for very low pay, with non-existent staffs?  Or the local party officials who work full time jobs elsewhere and volunteer their time for local party management and activities?

          Most of these local Dem party offices are run by volunteers on very lean budgets.  Any money raised locally goes to Washington DC for national and Congressional races or to individual campaign accounts.   None of it makes its way back to local party organizations.

          Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

          by Betty Pinson on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:21:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Totally, Betty (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Betty Pinson, RosyFinch, Theodicy

            I hate the blanket condemnation of every elected official as being corrupt just because they're a public official. That is a recipe for worse and worse candidates. We have some great elected officials here in the Cleveland area and some amazing activists too. They do not deserve thoughtless smears.

            Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

            by anastasia p on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 02:04:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  don't be naive Betty (0+ / 0-)

            I have volunteered. And I vote. But don't sit there and tell me that the system all the way down to local isn't rigged.

            this diary explains how and why the system is rigged.

        •  Not always the case (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Micheline, Theodicy

          And I believe one of the things that crushes participation is people who spread the cynicism that "they're all the same' and "all politicians are corrupt." If everyone is "in on it" why bother to vote?

          Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

          by anastasia p on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 02:02:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  crushes participation? (0+ / 0-)

            who wants to "participate" in a charade? a rigged game?

            not participating is called a boycott. the next step after, when things get to this point, is what we're seeing in Ferguson.

            yes there are volunteers and good people who have gotten duped by the Barack Obamas of the world who do some token stuff and then protect the 1% the rest of the time. because they will reap millions themselves after the presidency.

            everyone wants some of that action.

      •  A long ballot (0+ / 0-)

        A long ballot will favor movements extreme enough to get their followers to vote straight off a list.  Extremist stealth candidates, like the League of the South bastards who tried to get nominated by both parties in Maryland, can sneak into power.

    •  Fatigue or apathy? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TrueBlueDem, Odysseus, elfling

      It can certainly be hard work to get to know how to vote for every election on a ballot.  And down ballot questions certainly seem to be either overlooked and ignored, or even worse, the voter seems to pick whoever is first on the list.

      But I wonder if the problem is people not having the time, or just not having the interest.  My pet theory for a while on this has been the interest.

      Consider the upcoming 2014 elections.  A not-exhaustive list of offices up for grabs in my area in November includes a US Senate race and races to fill seats in the US House.  On the state level, statewide elections include for the governor, lt. governor, attorney general, secretary of state, school superintendent, insurance commissioner, commissioner of agriculture, commissioner of labor, and two seats on the public service commission. This is in addition to races for the state house and state senate.

      Add on judges and local/county elections, and yeah, it's a lot.  That's why I think mail-in ballots, plus a national voting holiday, would be good ways to deal with it.  

      But is it fatigue, or just plain apathy caused by ignorance that's the real issue?  All these elections.  All of them very important, big consequences for people of the state.  Yet how are they covered in the media?  Good luck finding ANY post-primary coverage of somethign that's not the governor or senate race.  The media doesn't report it.  People don't care about it.  Chicken & egg issue? I don't know.  But maybe people would care more, if the media bothered reporting what all is at stake in the election, how candidates differ, what a win by one or the other would actually mean.  Alas.

      •  And more measures that you don't mention. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MPociask
        But is it fatigue, or just plain apathy caused by ignorance that's the real issue?
        How many people can name their state senator and representative?

        How many can name one county board member or city council member?

        What do you expect out of elections when there is so little real world engagement?

        -7.75 -4.67

        "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

        There are no Christians in foxholes.

        by Odysseus on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 02:53:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  An Excellent Point, But... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TrueBlueDem, MPociask

      Ballot fatigue also works in more than one way.

      It also has a fatiguing effect if one is summoned to the polls on what feels like (even if it is not) a monthly basis.

      Even if the municipals coincided with primary elections (where usually there are fewer ballot initiatives, and not every state/fed race is necessarily on the ballot), turnout would more than double in most locales.

      "Every one is king when there's no one left to pawn" (BRMC)
      Contributing Editor, Daily Kos/Daily Kos Elections

      by Steve Singiser on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:58:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Or simply make people aware that there is an el... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TrueBlueDem, MPociask, Odysseus

    Or simply make people aware that there is an election. The only way I hear about many elections is because the lady that owns the company I work at rins a polling station on her home. So when she is gone on a Tuesday in April we find out there is a county election. BeBefore working for her I had no idea how many times a year there was a chance to vote.

    •  Must be in a cave. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gooserock, dconrad

      First thing my new voter in my family did was download a list of voting dates from the election board.  She has the rest of the year ones on her personal calendar and plans to do the same year after year.  

      If it is important to you, you do something about it.

      •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

        I vote in all elections. People r learning the herd way just how important municipal elections can be.

      •  It's great that your family are committed voters (5+ / 0-)

        but bringing CHANGE means working with marginal voters.    

        Statistical studies have shown that those who register do tend to end up voting. Those who vote as much as twice tend to become habitual voters.  It's a process.  

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:52:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah and Some Guy from Argentina Made Sure (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TrueBlueDem, lgmcp, MPociask

        he got one of my artisan pieces to buy.

        But I'd starve if I waited for the world to figure out it needs my products. I have to market them if I want the world to perform.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:01:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Ignore reality if you want, but . . . (5+ / 0-)

        Most people will not take the time and effort to discover endless lists of dates to potentially vote in primaries and even elections for the myriad of elected officials we have nowadays.  City councils, metropolitan council, county commissioners, watershed district board, state court judges, etc, etc, etc, etc.  

        I know that all of these can have a significant impact on my personal interests (it turns out even the watershed board), let alone my political preferences, but I do have a life to live outside of tracking myriad election dates along with the hundreds of other things attendant to daily life.  I suspect other people have the same problem.

        Maybe we could have these election dates coordinated somehow so that we don't have to track and attend practically monthly public elections for these positions dribbled out over the year(s)?  Surely that would be less expensive and would be more likely to attract a higher turnout.        

        "[L]et us judge not that we be not judged." Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1865

        by ByTor on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 02:05:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  How? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, MPociask, RosyFinch

      Our daily newspaper, for instance, does its best to downplay elections because it openly WANTS Republicans to win and to depress Democratic turnout. I am shocked at the number of people I talk to who don't know we are electing a governor this November and that the well-being of 95% of the people in the state depend on ousting the incumbent. And when I was in Chicago last week, quite a few well-educated people were asking "Do you know if it's next year when we can vote to get rid of Rahm Emanuel?"

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

      by anastasia p on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 02:06:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  To state the obvious, GOTV (9+ / 0-)

    If such a small percentage of people vote, money should be swamped by a concerted GOTV effort. This seems especially true the next time there are municipal elections in this particular town. I expect a clean sweep after this fiasco.

    There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

    by slothlax on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 11:41:57 AM PDT

    •  the issue with that (6+ / 0-)

      is for a good GOTV effort you need volunteers and money. If you are taking on an entrenched power structure you're going to be at a monetary disadvantage, and if there is already little interest in municipal elections you probably won't attract many volunteers.

      We no longer ask if a man has integrity, but if he has talent. - Rousseau, Discourse on the arts and sciences

      by James Allen on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:41:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ferguson is the type of place (4+ / 0-)

        where a Democrat doesn't need the most money, just enough money. First we need an incumbent, then the money will flow.

        There must be an African-American doctor or lawyer there who can self-fund $25K and raise $100K to do mailers, billboards, radio. Rent some vans on Election Day. Someone with the time to hit up the black church circuit and fire up the parishioners.

        At the end of the day, everyone is allowed to vote. The fact that our side has to sweat a little more to get people to the polls sucks but isn't an excuse for this level of failure.

        The sinners are much more fun...

        by TrueBlueDem on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:15:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed with the spirit (6+ / 0-)

          but in communities like this, you don't even need any of that.  Door-to-door, word of mouth, shoe leather and organizing are sufficient.  You're talking about local races in a town of about 20,000 people.  When on 11 percent vote, let's be real generous and say that's 2,000 people.  If you can organize 3,000, you can control the entire election, top to bottom.  In such a small, contained area, you don't need mailers, or billboards, or radio.  All you need are volunteers who know their neighbors and are committed to putting in a little time to organize.  

          In fact, these types of campaigns are usually more effective, because they fly under the political radar until Election Day.  This is how you end up getting rid of individual incumbents (think Eric Cantor or Neil Abercrombie).  On a local scale, it can work for an entire regime, too.  

          Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

          by Big River Bandido on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:34:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  a city race in a city of 21,000 shouldn't (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus

          see 100,000 of mail. With that kind of money you could send every registered voter more than 10 pieces, probably. That's way overkill.

          We no longer ask if a man has integrity, but if he has talent. - Rousseau, Discourse on the arts and sciences

          by James Allen on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:53:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Then this diary is even more off-the-mark (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slothlax

            If 8 friends who are free on weekends and $10,000 will win the local HS principal the election, why the hell is Ferguson the way it is? If there is no infrastructure there, the state party can create some with a couple of hours of recruiting calls.

            I'm not one of the data whizzes here, but I'm itching to know how many townships (let's say 10K plus people) of 40+% AA or Hispanic CVAP have GOP mayors. It must be dozens.  

            The sinners are much more fun...

            by TrueBlueDem on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 02:26:01 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Yes. Ferguson is much more Dem-fail than rigged. (12+ / 0-)

      If a city is 2/3 black and somehow black voters plus 20-25% of the white voters still cannot elect a Democrat, blaming the election cycle is making excuses for a total failure of the state and local parties.

      The first objective of any competent state party must be to maximize political control of your demographic strongholds to accelerate party-building and develop a bench for higher office.

      The sinners are much more fun...

      by TrueBlueDem on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:44:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  To quote from another diary (5+ / 0-)

        98% of the students are below the poverty level.  You're not going to get any kind of volunteer work when people are trying to get food.  There are no "local" party people because there will be zero donations.

        "Moon landing was real. Evolution exists. Tax cuts lose revenue. The research has shown this a thousand times. Enough already." - Austan Goolsbee

        by anonevent on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:53:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  To echo a point I made in another comment (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TrueBlueDem, MPociask, slothlax

        It would be wrong to assume that African-Americans are as supportive of the Democratic Party in Missouri as they are nationally.  The party in Missouri has a long and entrenched pattern of racism and exclusion, which has created a level of antipathy and distrust among the very black voters that could propel the party to victory.  

        Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

        by Big River Bandido on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:36:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Recruiting is critical, then (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, happymisanthropy

          The only way to lure black voters back to the polls is to recruit candidates they know and trust. As you mention, it seems MO Democrats have rarely if ever bothered to do that. But starting small at the grassroots level in places like Ferguson is where to start.

          The sinners are much more fun...

          by TrueBlueDem on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:58:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  don't you think that would be true in (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Englishlefty

          many other states too, though, where traditionally Democrats were racist whites? That's a lot of the country, and in many of those places African Americans now are the backbone of the party. In some like Alabama and Mississippi, they're basically all that's left.

          We no longer ask if a man has integrity, but if he has talent. - Rousseau, Discourse on the arts and sciences

          by James Allen on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 02:24:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It was and is true in many other states (0+ / 0-)

            North and South.  

            I also note that the two instances you cited where African-Americans control the party, all the white voters deserted it — further indication of racism.  The racist element still controls Democratic state politics in those places, and others far beyond Alabama, Mississippi and Missouri.  It penetrates deep into the old industrial belt, and indeed is being played out in slow-motion horror in Detroit over the last 50 years.  

            Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

            by Big River Bandido on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 02:56:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Good point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TrueBlueDem

        Lets identify who the local Dem leaders are and lets start hearing about what they are saying they are going to do?  If they aren't saying anything, chance are they aren't doing anything effective either, so its time for a change.

        If people want change they must work for it.  Not wait for others to do it for them.  God helps those who help themselves.  Sounds like an excellent opportunity for the citizens of Ferguson to start helping themselves so they might get a little help from Heaven.

    •  That's where all the DNC money should go (0+ / 0-)

      The US ranks 138th out of all 169 voting countries in actual voting. Since 1974, mid-term % of eligible voters who vote avgs. 37%. Democrats would dominate if they did one thing- GOTV. They never do. Curious.

      by Incredulousinusa on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 11:30:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Though it's kind of funny (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, varro, TrueBlueDem, Odysseus, Theodicy

    Here in Texas, the school district bond elections frequently will be timed to coincide with the November elections for the simple reason that the school board members don't want a disproportionate number of the voters to be the kind of people who froth at the mouth when they hear "government spending."

    30, white male, TX-07 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

    by TDDVandy on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:12:29 PM PDT

  •  Keep it tidy (6+ / 0-)

    Election day in Minnesota is always the Tuesday that falls between November 2 and 8 inclusive.  Schools and municipalities can choose either even year or off year (terms are always two or four years), and of course state and federal elections are all even year.

    In the UK, election day is usually the first Thursday in May, the one remaining exception being if it's a Euro election year in which case the UK election date is moved back by about three weeks to coincide with the Euro one.  There are a variety of different schedules for different offices (some have three year terms, some four, and some five), but always the first Thursday in May unless that Euro vote ends up in late May as it did this year.  

    Predictable routines like this help turnout.  Fragmenting elections, e.g. with primaries, uncoordinated dates for schools and municipalities

  •  Could this happen to do with (0+ / 0-)

    African Americans not voting in large numbers?

  •  Sounds a bit like San Diego County (6+ / 0-)

    We have five lily white, conservative Republican county supervisors in a majority nonwhite county.

    American Presidents: 43 men, 0 women. Ready for Hillary

    by atana on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:44:12 PM PDT

  •  Texas has its gubernatorial election in an off (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Losty, Theodicy

    year specifically to "avoid influence by the presidential election." (OK, I don't know the exact quote, but it's in the Texas constitution.)  It's done for the same reason: to maintain power in conservative's hands.

    Is someone going to argue that Democrats need to give a reason for people to turn out to vote, like they want to do for this election?

    "Moon landing was real. Evolution exists. Tax cuts lose revenue. The research has shown this a thousand times. Enough already." - Austan Goolsbee

    by anonevent on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:45:47 PM PDT

    •  It didn't really work.... (0+ / 0-)

      ....because Mark White and Ann Richards won the races in off-year elections in 1982 and 1990, when Republicans held the White House.

      I don't think the Reagan landslide in 1980 or GHW Bush on the ticket in 1988 would have helped them....

      You can't spell "Dianne Feinstein" without "NSA".

      by varro on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:53:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not sure I follow you (0+ / 0-)

        Didn't Texas make the Southern Strategy switch from D to R over that period? The 80s and early 90s were the period of crossover balloting, when Dixiecrat voters were still choosing R for president but D for local offices. In 1994 they flipped to R for Congress. Local level party affiliation shifts came afterwards.

  •  What about organizing? (8+ / 0-)

    I don't know the situation in Ferguson but it seems a concerted effort at organizing would be a big factor. If I was there, I'd ask who are the non-profits in the community? Any activist organizations concerned with school quality, tax spending / fairness by race, the environment? I would be volunteering through the NAACP or League of Women Voters if they are already there. Getting people to vote regularly can be self-reinforcing. Do it two or three times and it becomes a habit, to some extent.

    •  Starting of course with registration drives (5+ / 0-)

      and in fact every vigil or protest concerning this months events should be fertile ground for voter registration teams.  The sooner they get out there the better.

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:55:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And how about a web site (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lgmcp, Odysseus

        ...for central organizing, a blog for citizens of Ferguson. Start a major people power registration drive. Maybe a "shadow government" can evolve and candidates for public office emerge. Could be very powerful. Could be protective -- the powers that be would have to think twice before messing with the people there.

        "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." —John Kenneth Galbraith

        by eyeswideopen on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:13:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  So recall (0+ / 0-)

    It is obvious that the council has been criminally negligent over many years in creating a police force that served the community.

    Recall now, while the spirit is there. It is a positive action, and the resultant special election would likely be adjacent to fall elections.

    It is logical, legal and right.

    •  Can they recall them? (0+ / 0-)

      That would be grand, if there are provisions for it in the law.

      "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." —John Kenneth Galbraith

      by eyeswideopen on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:14:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •   IT sets the recall date (0+ / 0-)

        on or about the general (unless the Governor is REALLY corrupt) and gives the town a positive way to take control back. Marching is just not going to do it because out of towners are creeping in to cause trouble.

  •  Hopefully they have now awaken a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lily O Lady

    sleeping giant in the Ferguson electorate.  With the spotlight on them, we can help get souls to the polls!

    I want to live in a world where George Zimmerman offered Trayvon Martin a ride home to get him out of the rain that night. -Bishop G. Brewer

    by the dogs sockpuppet on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:50:58 PM PDT

  •  Were Rednecks (0+ / 0-)

    More relevant now than ever:

    "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." -- Albert Einstein

    by lynn47 on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:51:28 PM PDT

  •  Progressive Era (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sturunner, TrueBlueDem

    just want to point out that the strange dates for municipal elections is often a by-product of the Progressive Era. Those elections were set at a different time, and often nonpartisan, in order to avoid party voting in local elections. I'm not saying that's good or bad just that the reason for the funny scheduling was not necessarily in order to skew the vote.

    •  The Progressive Era also coincided with (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Theodicy

      a frightening rise of racial violence and animosity in this country, and the original Progressives were not immune to those jingoistic impulses, as both Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson make clear.  Part of the coded language employed in the Progressive Era had to do with "cleaning up" and "reforming" city governments.  This played on the common stereotype of Tammany and other party organizations…which just happened to be controlled by minorities and immigrants.  

      Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

      by Big River Bandido on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:42:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  if you say so (0+ / 0-)

        but I'm not convinced. I would even assert that that is a misquote - out of context - of "cleaning up." I would need to see some real evidence that links those two ideas. Progressive Era wasn't perfect, the lynching is this country was incredibly out of control, for instance, but it did a lot of good, probably only second to FDR's programs (although LBJ can be cited, too).

        I'm always a bit hesitant to throw out charges against potential allies, even those from history.

        (Also, I've always separated Wilson from the Progressives in my mind. The list of regressive things he did is too long.)

        •  Wilson is the archetype of the Progressive Era (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Theodicy

          and much as that era brought forth many true reforms in government and economic life, there is much it advanced — racism and prohibition foremost — which was scurrilous.  This was not "KKK racism" of burning crosses and lynchings.  This was a "finger sandwich" racism practiced by people who were completely isolated from people of color, and who expressed their prejudices in forums and in ways that were never meant to be superficially "rude".  It expressed itself against Catholics as a crude anti-Papist conspiracy which today is embarrassing — for "Catholics" in that era was code for "Irish" and "Italian".  The history of Prohibition in this country is, in part, the story of a proxy war between immigrants (many of them German, Irish and Italian) who drank and were Democrats, and the WASP Progressives (all Republicans in those days) who were dry.  

          Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

          by Big River Bandido on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 04:13:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  a little more complicated (0+ / 0-)

            at least in my view, it was more complicated. Yes, Prohibition was regressive for many reasons, not least because of the barely hidden bigotry against the German, Italian, and Irish immigrants, and is seen as part of the Progressive Era. Yes, Wilson was seen as part of the Progressives mostly because of economic policy, especially the income tax (being progressive and all), but his bigotry that you describe I find is a negative in balance.

            However, I'm not really interested in arguing the net balance of the Progressive Era. Teddy Roosevelt did a lot of good (and some sketchy) and started an era of good government that was a complete sea change from the conservative politics from the Civil War up until then (especially as seen in the Supreme Court of that era).

            As to the actual, original topic, I merely stated my understanding that the odd dates for municipal elections were often linked to the Progressive Era and I don't think they were knowingly racist or classist. Women couldn't vote in most elections then and blacks were systematically excluded from voting so to assert that it was done for exclusionary reasons is tenuous, again, in my opinion. Yes, Tammany Hall was a reason but I haven't heard anything that changing the dates from the general elections changed the turnout numbers meaningfully. My understanding is that corruption such as that was only eliminated (kinda) by aggressive prosecution, which seems to be a fairly effective and popular way for DA's to get elected in the New York / New Jersey areas even today.

  •  MO elections "nonpartisan" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sturunner


    The national and state Democratic parties have no reason outside of it being the right thing to do to "get out the vote", so they do not.  

    "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

    by Yamaneko2 on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 12:53:46 PM PDT

    •  Of course they have a reason (0+ / 0-)

      For one, the Democrat will (should) govern like a Democrat, and support other Democrats. For another, he or she is still a potential candidate for higher partisan office. The "cloak" only applies to that original township ballot, but it's not glued on forever.

      The sinners are much more fun...

      by TrueBlueDem on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 02:31:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dems used election timing trying to hold off Rs (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sturunner, MPociask, TrueBlueDem

    In some southern states, as elections at the federal level were clearly trending R during the 1980s and 1990s, but the Ds still held control of of state offices and legislatures, they adopted the tactic of switching some state or local-level elections to off-presidential years in an effort to de-couple the reddening federal election cycles from still-blue off-year election cycles.  Of course, demographic changes are now progressively beginning to invert this dynamic, with presidential years now bringing more D-favorable electorates than off-years, even though demographic trends aren't yet strong enough to turn these states back blue or even reliably purple, especially given the golden opportunity handed the GOP to gerrymander in 2010.

     

  •  Nitpick: Map is inaccurate (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sturunner, MPociask, dconrad, Theodicy, 4jkb4ia

    Ferguson is south of I-270 (on purpose).  Lots of what you have as Ferguson is actually Florissant, or unincorporated County.

    I grew up riding my bike from Grandview to Castle Rock, through Dunegant Park and down West Florissant to Chambers.

  •  So organize and get people to the polls!!! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, markw
  •  Long Beach tried to change the local election (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RosyFinch

    timing with a ballot measure in November 2012 but was narrowly defeated.  We need to keep trying!

    "The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of the lending institutions and moneyed incorporations."Thomas Jefferson, 1816

    by cynfowler on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:01:27 PM PDT

  •  I CALL BS! (0+ / 0-)

    There is no excuse for not voting! NONE!

    I am pro-life. Bring our troops home ALIVE!

    by Doc Allen on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:05:36 PM PDT

    •  Except when (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bryduck

      ... Your registration card that you filled out got thrown away by Republican registrars, your name wasn't on the registered voter lists, Republican dirty tricksters sent out official-looking notices that election day was the day after it really was, your polling place was relocated at the last minute by Republicans who really didn't want you to vote anyway, belligerent right wing skinhead types were sent to "watch" the polls and contest the right to vote of every person of color, your photo ID from your university isn't enough to satisfy them that you are who you say you are in order to vote in a GOP controlled state where the GOP has passed a draconian voter ID law, your provisional ballot somehow ended up in a box tucked away until after the counting, etc., etc., etc.

      "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." —John Kenneth Galbraith

      by eyeswideopen on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:25:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's precisely why there needs to be planning (0+ / 0-)

        as well as organizing so that that contingency is taken into account and dealt with.  There should be enough pro bono lawyers and democratic activists to make sure that the kind of illegal activity doesn't not occur without prosecutions.

  •  Now that they really understand what their (0+ / 0-)

    lack of participation in the political process gets them, the residents of Ferguson should be able to get to the polls regardless of when the election is held.
    It's the voter's responsibility to vote.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:11:46 PM PDT

  •  Barriers to Voting are Speed Bumps (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TrueBlueDem, MPociask

    Yes the fix is in and the powers that be very often do what they can to discourage turnout so that their own supporters have undue influence in elections and skew the results. This may not be the most appropriate imagery to use, but no one is holding a gun to anyone's head to prevent them from voting. Until the second half of the 20th century there were indeed true barriers to voting for many that absolutely prevented citizens from voting. The recent emergence of ID laws and changes in voting hours are clearly designed to thwart some voters, but don't yet prevent significant numbers from voting. Those laws would be totally ineffectual in disenfranchisement and would be easily over turned if the majority of the electorate bothered to show up on election day. The election laws we used to have in this nation were true barriers. The barriers to voting we have today should be nothing more than speed bumps for an electorate that is determined to vote. We whine as a nation about how democracy is failing when in reality that failure is almost completely preventable if we just vote.

    Patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings. Steal a little and they throw you in jail. Steal a lot and they make you king.... Dylan

    by bywaterbob on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:14:39 PM PDT

    •  Speed bumps work (0+ / 0-)

      That's why they put them in residential neighborhoods - to be enough of a nuisance, supposedly, so that you will slow down, but in reality so that you will just go away.

      They have computers that tell them how much of the enemy vote they have to suppress to just barely win a monopoly of power, then change the laws to create a permanent one-party state.  Speed bumps are good enough in practice.

  •  VOTE (0+ / 0-)

    In a world all about ME
    My single vote does not matter
    In a world about WE
    My vote is hoisted on a platter

    In a world about us
    My vote affects you
    In a world about me
    My vote is fuck you.

    My vote is just one
    But it can amount
    If all of us valued civic duty
    All votes would count.

    But I bought into the meme that my vote is crap
    I fell into the "I do not count trap"
    Voting is a value and I guess I will never learn
    I chose not to vote, but when is it my turn?

  •  Simply inexcusable... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TrueBlueDem

    ...and unacceptable. I don't care what roadblocks have been put up, there is no reason why people shouldn't go out and vote. Here we see the consequences. Hopefully, a lesson will be learned.

    "I know you cannot force people to care. Ukraine is far away for many, all have own problems. But even if cynical, realize problem will grow. It isn't only people like me, raised in a dictatorship, who don't want it to happen to others"-Gary Kasparov

    by LordMike on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:27:42 PM PDT

  •  I find it hard to feel sorry for them. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MPociask, TrueBlueDem, 4jkb4ia

    When I saw the diary title I was expecting weird elections hours that end at 5pm.  Or lack of polling sites and long lines.  Or an atrocious gerrymander.  Or at the very least voter ID that make it difficult for the poor to get ID forms acceptable for said legislation.  But this is a simple case of not caring enough to vote and get involved with very predictable consequences.

    That is not to say that off year, off month elections are not bad.  They waste resources and do tend to have a lower turnout.

    That said if you don't like the Mayor and the city council and the police force organize and vote.  It's that simple.  I hate that we have elections with real consequences that we lose because folks don't want to vote.  Particularly in off years.  2010 did not need to happen!

    Let this be a case lesson on why voting matters.

    Want another lesson?  Take the ultra-Orthodox Satmar upstate New York State enclave of Kiryas Joel.  It has a smaller population than Furgeson.  Hillary Clinton and a whole host of leaders both local and national visit there and confer with their community leaders.   And their concerns are taken very seriously by all.  Know why?  Everyone votes.  All the time in every election.  En masse.  With a very narrow strict concern for their issues and their own well being.

    That is not true of Ferguson.  Which apparently is known for not voting and showing little concern that their government does not represent them at all.

    "Heretics are the only remedy against the entropy of human thought.” ― Yevgeny Zamyatin

    by Taget on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:32:36 PM PDT

  •  Exactly the case in Woodland, CA (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, RosyFinch, Theodicy

    The population of Woodland is approximately 1/2 Latino (and slightly blue by registration) and yet only a handful of Latinos have been elected to the City Council - and maybe only a couple of women. Why? Because City Council elections are held in June.

    This November's ballot will include the proposal to move future City Council elections to November. There's also a plan to move to elections by district so that all of the City Council members don't live in the same neighborhood. Note, though, that we did elect a Latino city council member this past June. We'll see what happens in November.

    Science literacy is a vaccine against the charlatans of the world that would exploit your ignorance. ~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

    by tgypsy on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:38:35 PM PDT

  •  Throw in distrust of the system and community.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    super390, 4jkb4ia

    members who have, over time, come to feel their vote just doesn't count.  

    Then consider economic and job related transience and unstable home situations found in impoverished communities like Ferguson.  I'd venture to guess that voter registration efforts in Ferguson would show a significant number of people who are registered voters but have changed addresses since the last time they voted.

    The worst thing about St. Louis is Missouri.

    by duckhunter on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:40:34 PM PDT

  •  Now, that's what I'm talking about. (0+ / 0-)

    Something concrete we can do.

    You're gonna need a bigger boat.

    by Debby on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:53:37 PM PDT

  •  We had an interesting manifestation (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TrueBlueDem, RosyFinch

    of this municiple elections off cycle phenomenon in my small suburban Westchester town of Bedford recently.  The town elects a Town Supervisor (2 year term) 4 Town Board Members (4 year terms, staggered 2 and 2), the Town Clerk (also a 4 year term) and 2 Town Justices (again, 4 year terms).  All were on a schedule wherein the town elections occur in odd-numbered years.   Then, in 2012, we had a Town Justice (who had been re-elected the previous year) die of Melonoma.  A temporary justice was appointed by the Town Board, and an election was held in November of that year for a replacement.  However, before the election, the Board of Elections ruled that, due to an ambiguity in NYS election law, the new election would be for a full four year term -- to be held each Presidential election.  The Republican-led Town Board fought this, but, after losing in the trial court, the Town acquiesced.  Now, at least one local position in not in an off-cycle election.  (BTW, the winner of that Nov 2012 election was the Democratic candidate).

    Anyone arguing that there's no difference between the parties is a fucking moron who can simply go to hell. -- kos

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 01:56:17 PM PDT

  •  Off-off year elections are not all bad (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    4jkb4ia

    As an elected city official in an Ohio city that is similar in size to Ferguson, I believe that the off-off year elections are not necessarily a bad thing. Yes, turnout is always a lot lower than in years with state-wide or presidential elections, but this also leads to the cost of elections decreasing.  Fund-raising is a major part of any election, and for first-time candidates running for local office, it can be rather daunting.  When you are running in a year with lower turnout, it lowers your election costs, as there are less voters to target, and also allows for a grassroots style door-knocking campaign to succeed (that is how I first won.)  Also, for those who will say it helps to protect incumbents, I feel it is actually the opposite.  I knocked off an incumbent, and we have had several others beaten recently.  This is because with such low turnout, it is that much easier to flip an election by getting even a small number of otherwise unengaged voters to turn out.
    I think a bigger problem to address would be the idea of non-partisan elections, rather than the timing of municipal elections.

  •  Pennsylvania (0+ / 0-)

    Pennsylvania holds its municipal elections in off-years but at the same time as the other elections (in November). However, we have the same low turnout in most off-year elections. We are not quite as low as Furgasun but 20% would be considered a good turnout in local elections.

    The end result is nearly the same. The city is majority Democratic with a growing Latino population. There has never been a Latino elected to any office. The city counsel and mayor are heavily Republican.

  •  I think your premise is horse doo-doo (0+ / 0-)

    The real problem is that African-Americans just don't turn out.  This is no different in the general elections.  The reality is that in some cities, elections at this date do work and do allow city issues which would be lost in general elections to come to the forefront.  Aurora, Colorado a
    an inner ring suburb of 320,000 is an example of where this does work.  Aurora has large populations of African Americans, immigrants, Hispanics, Whites, Asian and other ethnic groups.   The City Council is diverse and active and represents its city.  You almost never hear of any conflicts in city government in Aurora.  

    I didn't see any reference to Gerrymandering or other cheating by the people in power.  So from my point of view, the citizens of Ferguson get the government they elect and deserve.  If they don't like it, they can vote it out.  And they can do that on any day of any year.  They have the votes, all they need to do is use them.  But they haven't. They have no one to blame but themselves.

  •  Jeff Smith? (0+ / 0-)

    The guy who did Bone?

    Why do I have the feeling George W. Bush joined the Stonecutters, ate a mess of ribs, and used the Constitution as a napkin?

    by Matt Z on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 04:38:12 PM PDT

  •  It's about bonds and overrides (0+ / 0-)

    Cities also tend to have off-year or off-November elections because of bond funding. During high turn out years, they risk not having their funding sources approved by an anti-tax electorate. Instead, they can count on the 10% of dedicated citizens to turn out and approve a school district override or city maintenance bond when the rest of the electorate isn't paying attention.

  •  It doesn't even have to be intentionally abusive (0+ / 0-)

    Reality is that when you have minor elections with little press at strange times, the people who are most likely to vote are old people, old people who don't have the experiences or the same access to information as the rest of the electorate.

    This is how you get school board elections where most of the voters don't have kids in the school, just as an example.

    On top of that, it's expensive to have these elections in the off years.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 06:06:40 PM PDT

  •  Can the alderman run for mayor? (0+ / 0-)

    He looks like he would be a great candidate who can easily win.

  •  Are the elections in Ferguson At-Large? (0+ / 0-)

    Here in California, by way of the California Voting Rights Act (California Only) Cities and special districts are being forced to get rid of at-large elections.

  •  Probably staggered as well. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Theodicy

    Many local governments have staggered turn over with only 1/3 of the counsel being up for election every two years.  Significant office holders such as sheriff and mayor etc may not come up in the same cycle.  The alleged reason is continuity in government which you would think would be a good thing except when the government is corrupt and then real change is a 6 year dedicated fight to the finish.  So you can't just go in and vote the bums out when you are pissed you have to keep at it.  

    A bad idea isn't responsible for those who believe it. ---Stephen Cannell

    by YellerDog on Tue Aug 19, 2014 at 12:36:09 AM PDT

  •  I'm glad for many eyes on this problem. (0+ / 0-)

    It increases the likelihood of reform.

    Thanks for the diary.

    "Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come." --Rumi

    by karmsy on Tue Aug 19, 2014 at 10:29:38 AM PDT

  •  On the ground (0+ / 0-)

    All of St. Louis County and City has municipal elections in April. This is not something unique to Ferguson. Absolutely, involved and active citizens can create a culture of voting in these elections. In University City, I always know when the election is because there are yard signs in profusion and I have (this year) gotten a letter on endorsements for how the Orthodox community should vote. In University City, there is little difficulty getting minority representation on the city council and school board. Also too, African American candidates were endorsed in the aforementioned letter because it is understood that coalitions are important.

    I am trying to bring up turnout figures for University City but the county election board server doesn't want to cooperate.

    More broadly, police brutality is hardly unique to Ferguson. Bringing in what Paul Waldman wrote yesterday, it may be in some sense more rational to vote in federal elections to ensure some minimal backstop to protect your rights when the local and state government screws up than to vote in local elections when the obstacles in your life are national in scope. Also as was observed above, local elections get much poorer quality news. Not what Tocqueville had in mind unfortunately.  

  •  So I am late reading the paper today (0+ / 0-)

    NYT polls outside observers who note that there does not seem to be any person, whether elected or unelected, who will intervene between the black community and the police in Ferguson. So there is no obvious person who will use accumulated goodwill to get elected, although a minority council member/police board member is an intervenor by default.

  •  Where are the community leaders in Ferguson? (0+ / 0-)

     It's easy for elected officials to disregard areas where the voter turnout is low. City Councils pay attention to areas where people actually vote. Voter turnout in municipal elections in the African American parts of Ferguson is abysmal, but is actually an opportunity. With an organized effort, it should be possible to  to dramatically increase the voter turnout in previously low turnout precincts, and that will certainly get the attention of the city officials.  

    Increasing voter turnout is hard work, and there is no substitute for knocking on doors and talking to voters, but it does work. Our local Industrial Areas Foundation coalition has been very successful in increasing voter turnout in previously very low voting parts of the city in city elections, and leveraging power to hold city officials accountable and change city policies on living wages, affordable housing and more.

    Where are the community leaders in Ferguson? After the shouting dies down, what is needed is leaders who will organize for the next municipal election.

    Good thing we've still got politics in Texas -- finest form of free entertainment ever invented.- Molly Ivins

    by loblolly on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 06:56:26 AM PDT

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