The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

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May 19, 2013

Low voter turnout frustrates residents

GREENVILLE — There are 12,611 registered voters in the city of Greenville. Only 1,793 of them, or 14.22 percent voted in the May 11 elections.

The poor turnout occurred despite several major items on the ballot, including the $15 million YMCA/event center bond, $12 million road bond and contested city council race.

In 2012, 2,661 residents voted, although 2011 (748) and 2010 (881) numbers were significantly lower than last Saturday’s turnout.

Perhaps the most important ballot item were the Greenville City Charter Amendments. The city charter is the governing document for Greenville, and details how the city can be run.

News of the low turnout garnered negative reactions on the Herald-Banner’s Facebook page.

I think this is absolutely ridiculous,” local resident Sandy Spatafora Orange said. “Everywhere you go people are complaining about this or that. Then you find out that they did not even bother to go and vote. You just want to tell them off. When their taxes go up, they will be complaining about that too.”

Some residents complained about confusing locations and a lack of information regarding the elections.

“Too inconvenient,” Brent Johnson said. “I never know where I need to go vote: a church, downtown, the civic center. Places should be more consistent/convenient and/or vote via mail.”

Greenville resident Joshua James Phillips agreed.

“Not much advertising, not much info on candidates; if I wasn’t reminded about it I would have completely forgot,” he said.

Other residents countered that social media, civic duty and stories printed in the Herald-Banner should have been enough to encourage people to vote.

“If you didn’t vote it’s your own fault,” Steve Duncan said. “Not easy enough to vote? Early voting in the same spot on Washington St. for 12 hours a day for about a month. Vote by mail? Yes, you could have. Or you could have [gone] to the polls on election day for 12 hours. Not enough advertising? Are you kidding. Every day in the paper you could find about a dozen ads, stories, letters and other items.”

Greenville resident Shane Stovall suggested that parents impress on their children the importance of voting.

“With the way social media is today, being unaware or uninformed is no excuse,” he said. “You may be a busy mom/dad; use an election to teach your kids how sacred our right to vote is. Take them to the park on Election Day, but on the way stop and vote. They will remember.”

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