Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Referendum Results Analysis

The plebiscite at the Phelps Center today was a big let down for me. After all the arguing, rallying, litigating, and preparation, only 800 souls showed up to vote. If this was an angry electorate, ready to throw the bums out, then I must be hallucinating again.

Nope, this was voting as usual for Laurel. Steadfast, thoughtful and less than 10% of the registered voters. Laurel voters are predictable and that is who voted in the referendum today.

Voters very strongly opposed council members serving four year terms, by nearly a 3 to 1 margin. The voters also rejected any pay raises by good margins. Voters strongly favor changing the municipal voting date and also extending the current council to allow this change.

The voting by ward issue seems to be the only tossup issue and could flip if all of the outstanding absentee votes are returned by next Tuesday and if they all oppose ward voting.

So what does this all really mean? Not much at all by my reckoning.

The goal of this effort was to find ways to increase votor turnout. Approximately 800 people cast votes so far. Considering all of the hype, hand wringing and litigation surrounding this referendum, this turnout is shamefully low.

If people are supposedly this riled up but only 800 of us could drag ourselves to the polls, then I don't think this foreshadows any new grassroots voter movement in Laurel.  

For a complete history of Laurel City voting patterns from 1972 to 2006 click here.

Here are brief election results from 2006-1992 for comparison with today:

VOTERS: 1091
VOTERS: 1062
VOTERS: 1153
VOTERS: 1763
Registered: 8014


Elden Carnahan said...

There was an election yesterday? Why wasn't there anything in the paper about it??

Tom Dernoga said...

Question from a mildly curious West Laurelite (peering over the garden fence). What is the significance of the election results?

If i understand it - and, I'm uncertain that I do - if the questions were advisory in nature, then nothing actually happens from this. For something to actually happen, either the public would have to petition actual Charter language changes to the ballot or the City Council will have to adopt a Charter Amendment Resolution and put the specific language up for a vote.


Maybe I should read the Leader more often? ;-)

Tom Dernoga

Rick Wilson said...

Tom: The council voted to make the results of the referendum binding. So the referendum sounds like it is more than an opinion poll. However, how much more seems to be part of Mike Sarich's lawsuit. I must admit that I am supremely unqualified to explain any of this.

Angela Pelletier said...

The Council voted to make it binding, yet this appeared today in the Leader: "In the meantime, Leszcz said, the voters’ decisions on the referendum questions will be implemented, “if the council is so disposed."" (Voters say no to salary increases, Laurel Leader, Sept 10, 2009). Binding, yet they'll act on the voters' decisions if they feel like it? Now I'm really glad the city spent so much money on the election!

Carol D said...

People are usually married for many years before they take on their mate's attitudes and temperments. Looks like a pre-wed situation here.

The Resolution is indeed binding upon the Council to legislate the will of the voters. I don't know what Mike was thinking when he made his comment, but I'm sure a conversation with the City Attorney will clear his understanding. Regardless, Mike was against the salary increase for both Mayor and Council. This issue will not return until it does in compliance with City Code, where another citizens committee will be involved. Perhaps their will be volunteers who want to take on this review.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Mike is right.



How will City Council react?

Now that the election is over and residents have made their choices on the ballot questions, it is up to City Council members to decide when and if they will introduce legislation to reflect the referendum’s outcomes.


Anonymous said...

I found it interesting that less people opposed the Mayor's increase than opposed the City Council. I suppose that means that more people think the Mayor does a better job than the Council.