The City Council and community activists have often called for increased voter participation in Rockville’s elections with little success. Typical are the results from the November 2011 election, when 6,240 ballots were cast out of 36,840 registered voters in a city with 62,476 residents. If I pull out my calculator, that’s a voter turnout rate of 17 percent or put another way, ten percent of the residents are making the decisions for Mayor and Council. We may find that level of involvement low, but it’s much better than neighboring Gaithersburg, where the voter turnout rate is in the single digits. Nevertheless, every two years there’s a call to increase voter participation but not much happens.
Last night, I joined a committee of the Rockville Community Coalition to explore ways to actually work on this issue. We didn’t develop any strategies or start any campaigns, but we did identify that voters are motivated by issues, good candidates, and yes, money (the current Republican primaries are a great example). We’ll explore all three to see how this fledgling group can tackle these topics and we hope to be ready in plenty of time for the next City Council election!