Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Less Than Three Percent Solution

My over/under line of 4.75% was far too high. I haven't seen the percentage figure broken out into the hundredths, but the "early estimate at less than 3 percent" turnout for the APS/CNM Board election is about half of my already ridiculously low over/under line. I should know better than shortchanging the indifference of citizens toward publicly elected school boards. Then again, nobody took up my bet... so I'm not out any money, and we can just enjoy the pitiful numbers.

Paul Maes won in District 5 with 581 votes. In a three-person race. 581. There are plenty of high school senior class presidents elected with more than 581 votes. Heck, middle school class presidents sometimes rack up more than 581 votes.

David Robbins won his mano-a-Mary-O District 6 race versus Mary Lee Martin with 943 votes. In District 3, Lorenzo Garcia took it with 943. District 7 showed by far the most democratic pride with a showing of over 2,000 voters, 1,743 rocking the vote for David Peercy.

On the one hand, one must be hopeful that an APS School Board election never has turn out this low again. On the other hand, if we combine these school board "contests" with city elections how many indifferent folks will be picking winners for these races not on any obtained informed basis, that would require caring and research, but instead on things like:

"Mary Lee that the same Mary Martin that was in "Peter Pan" way back when I was a kid? The same Mary Martin who was Larry Hagman's mom, the guy who played J.R. in "Dallas"? I sure did like that "Dallas" show, and I think I liked "Peter Pan", but that was a long, long time, this Mary Lee Martin must sure be old. But I sure liked "J.R.". Remember that time J.R. told Bobby to go after this guy...oh, better hurry up here. Stupid to spend so much time in the voting booth considering a school board seat. I'm gonna fill out this circle for this Mary Martin. That way I can say I voted for Peter Pan. Ha, ha, I make myself laugh sometimes. Hmmm.. thinking about Peter Pan makes me we have any peanut butter at home? I better get some at the store on the way back to the house."

Having seen Mary Lee Martin in action for some of the 914 years she's sat on the school board, I kinda wonder how many voters over the years had the same sort of mental "process" in deciding to vote for her.

As for how to solve the indifference of voters/citizens/anybody toward our school board, it's another one of those OTOH/OTOH things. On the one hand, if we truly empowered the board to make change in the District, including decisions that actually impacted classrooms, kid's lives, etc., more people might care. On the other hand, a truly empowered school board sounds pretty damn scary, especially when 99.3% of the population really has no idea who the Hell these people are.

When we embarrassingly vote for judges we have no idea about, it's okay. We're not planning to commit any crimes, and don't intend to end up standing before one of these totally unknown judges. School Board voting should be different, but in the search for "solutions" to the low turnout problem, we might step back and ask ourselves a couple of simpler questions:

Why have a publicly elected school board? Why have a school board at all?


Anonymous said...

I'm proud to be in the 3%. My published voting place, however, was closed for cleaning and I had to then find the new place.

I also voted against Mary Lee Martin. It's certainly time for a change.

Anonymous said...

It is grossly unfair to blame voter apathy for the poor turn out.

The KRQE report indicated that many voters were not even aware that there was an election going on. Is that their fault?

People with small power bases benefit from obscure elections; their guys outnumber those of new comers to the process.

A good question to ask is; why is there virtually no coverage of the election, and absolutely no coverage of any of the issues.

As but one example;

Can anyone point to an single Journal article on student discipline and its effect on education?

Anonymous said...

Mary Martin Peter Pan, coffee spurting out of my nose. LOL