Northeast Times

Voting is pitched as a matter of self-interest

Stephanie Sing­er doesn’t talk about “civic duty” when she en­cour­ages people to vote in the up­com­ing gen­er­al elec­tion for city con­trol­ler, dis­trict at­tor­ney and judges. One of the three city com­mis­sion­ers who over­see Phil­adelphia elec­tions, Sing­er pushes the point that city res­id­ents have something to gain by vot­ing, that there’s something in it for them.

Vot­ing is a mat­ter of self-in­terest and that is a more per­suas­ive ar­gu­ment for vot­ing than civic duty.

“I can’t ima­gine that duty and ob­lig­a­tion are very mo­tiv­at­ing, es­pe­cially to young­er voters,” Sing­er stated.

The res­id­ents of a neigh­bor­hood that has a con­sist­ently large voter turnout can’t be ig­nored, she told mem­bers of the Take Back Your Neigh­bor­hood civic group on Sept. 16. 

More re­sources will come to a neigh­bor­hood that demon­strates re­li­ably heavy voter turnout, she said.

“Folks need to know that folks look at turnout in every elec­tion when in­vest­ing re­sources in­to our com­munity,” said City Coun­cil­wo­man Maria Quinones Sanc­hez (D-7th dist.).

That’s true loc­ally — and na­tion­ally — Sing­er stated in a Sept. 17 email to the North­east Times.

“His­pan­ic turnout in the 2012 pres­id­en­tial elec­tion promp­ted a re­open­ing of the seem­ingly closed im­mig­ra­tion de­bate,” Sing­er said. “Con­sist­ent high Jew­ish turnout might be re­lated to the near uni­ver­sal de­sire of ma­jor na­tion­al can­did­ates to prove them­selves a ‘friend of Is­rael.’ ”

Sing­er urged res­id­ents to get them­selves — and their neigh­bors — to the polls and to do that year after year, elec­tion after elec­tion.

Voters who do that are called “su­per­voters,” said state Rep. Ed Neilson (D-169th dist.), and they’re the people politi­cians try to woo. 

The more su­per­voters live in a com­munity, the more at­ten­tion is paid to that com­munity, he said. 

In­volve­ment — the simple act of vot­ing — is “dis­turb­ingly low,” said City Coun­cil Pres­id­ent Dar­rell Clarke.

“If we saw pres­id­en­tial elec­tion-year-level turnout for every one of our elec­tions, the polit­ic­al land­scape across this city would prob­ably be sig­ni­fic­antly dif­fer­ent from what it is today. If you could name one thing about the city of Phil­adelphia you wish would change — wheth­er it’s pub­lic schools or lit­ter or road work — then you have every reas­on in the world to vote,” Clarke stated in a Sept. 18 email to the North­east Times.

Here are a couple of those reas­ons:

“It’s hard to hold me ac­count­able, if you’re not vot­ing,” Neilson said. “I could do what I want.”

And politi­cians who are not run­ning this year will look at turnout num­bers, the law­maker ad­ded. Res­id­ents who are angry about the amount of state money com­ing to Phil­adelphia’s schools, for ex­ample, should get to the polls this year to let can­did­ates who’ll be run­ning next year in the state elec­tions know their num­bers.

“I hope people turn an­ger in­to ac­tion and VOTE!” Quinones Sanc­hez stated.

“It’s im­port­ant to send a mes­sage this year,” Neilson said. The mes­sage is, he said, “We’re com­ing!” ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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