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!” ••