Low midterm-elections turnout shape mayoral race

With the recent midterm elections over, the next up-and-coming political event will be the mayoral race in May of 2015. San Antonio offers a different type of race in which non-partisan candidates run for mayor and city council seats. “In San Antonio they are ostensibly non-partisan elections and therefore you don’t run for mayor or city council as a Republican or Democrat,” said David Crockett, the head of the political science department.

The lack of partisanship makes it much more difficult for voters to pick a candidate to support because they don’t have knowledge of where they stand on  broader views. “It’s a non-partisan election, therefore it’s more difficult for voters to get information about the contest because the partisan label gives you information. Whether I like someone or not, if I see the label Democrat or Republican next to them I know something about what they believe in, something about their policy or agenda, and because I have a psychological affiliation with one of the two parties, I have a positive or negative reaction to that person just because of the label,” Crockett said.

The races for mayor in many cities go fairly unnoticed and do not have high rates of attendance. Some of that low turnout can be chalked up to the time of year the elections occurring. “They‘re held in May, we don’t think about elections in May. It is hard enough getting people out for midterm election for governor. We can do it for the presidency because it’s such a high profile one,” Crockett said.

For the up-and-coming 2015 election, all seats on the council are up for election. According to Ballotpedia.org,  “The San Antonio City Council is made up of 11 members, including the mayor. While the mayor is elected at-large, the other 10 members are elected by the city’s 10 districts.” There will be more information as the election date becomes closer, but those who are running for mayor have already begun to declare themselves as candidates.

According to Ballotpedia.org, those who have declared thus far for mayor are State Representative Mike Villarreal and State Senator Leticia Van de Putte.

There are no known candidates who have declared for city council as of yet, although in the coming months there will be more information regarding potential city council members.

While a full analysis of voter turnout for the midterm elections is a couple of months away, it is widely known that the turnout in the recent election is one of the lowest there has been in years.

Many Trinity students registered to vote in the weeks leading up to the election only to be turned away at the door. Sarah Thornton, a sophomore from Arizona, said “I think it was something that they should have told me up ront when I was registering to vote. I was completely unaware until voting day.”

Recent voter registration laws have changed, making it much more difficult for out-of-state students to vote. This difficulty arises from the fact that they don’t have Texas state IDs.

“I think that as a college campus they should provide some options for us as out-of-state students because we have so many out-of-state students, they should accommodate for that. If they want people to vote, we are all educated, we were going to vote and that was taken away from us,” Thornton said.

Midterm elections are notorious for having lower turnout than presidential elections for a multitude of reasons, but this year’s turnout was lower than usual.

“This midterm election was somewhere around 33 percent so it was lower than normal. There are all sorts of possible explanations from people being disenchanted with politics in general [to] increasing polarization in the political class seems to lead to certain dysfunctional aspects to our politics,” Crockett said.

Crockett continued to note that American citizens are continuing to become dispassionate about politics.

“More and more Americans may be thinking, ‘This is not a pathway to peace and prosperity, it’s not a pathway to progress, it’s not a pathway to things we need to do as a nation.’ They get turned off by politics, they don’t see it as relevant to their lives, and they don’t see their decision making a difference,” Crockett said.