Voter turnout blues can be eased by a fine summer’s day

Greenwich-Voices-von-KeyserlingWhen I was originally putting this column together, I was going to rail on about modern primaries being the generally ignored blitzkrieg of political minorities.

I was going to rant and rave about how the apathetic (pathetic) majority was hurting our democracy by failing to show up at the polls, leaving only the 6% of the 10% of primary turnout of the actual 25% of Connecticut residents who are registered to vote able to decide the governorship of Connecticut. But this is nothing new. After all we do complain a lot about the big corporate lobbyists running the government policy.

Well let’s do more than complain. Instead let’s talk about the leverage possessed by a disciplined and organized special interest minority.

Let’s think how a small amount of well-directed energy and money can steal our government through a totally legal and revered process. In last week’s primary election, only 13 Connecticut municipalities had vote totals over 1,000, with the highest being Fairfield with 2,517. The totals show 93 towns had vote totals under 500 and there were even 32 towns under 150. That’s not just one district. That’s an entire town with that low a turnout.

Think about this. Under the final figures, 28 towns were won by less than 25 votes. The GOP’s convention nominee for lieutenant governor, after 17 months of energetic campaigning, won 77 of the state’s 169 towns. David Walker won 28. But the winner only captured 55 towns.

A smart political operator should save himself the millions of dollars in statewide advertising and a political lifetime criss-crossing the state to attend all the political town committee meetings. A few weeks of targeted visiting to the 15 “fat” vote towns, a few bottles of hooch to the right town bosses, and the position is yours for the price of a summer vacation.

But I decided not to just complain in this piece, remember? As I was remembering the “old days” when it was a mark of pride to vote, even in no-contest elections, today’s wonderful, morning sun warmed my back, and a cool breeze caressed my anguished brow. Greenwich’s summer eased me into somnolence. The chirping birds could be heard in the quiet lull of August traffic.

It was then that all worries vanished as I reflected on the blessing of a “Townie’s August” in Green Witch.

For one month out of the year, the old, genteel days of Greenwich return with the exodus of the wealthy and important to their palaces by the sea. There is plenty of parking on the Avenue with no traffic jams and impatient horns. Restaurants have open tables where one can linger over good food and leisurely conversation. Recreational decisions are the only stress with three or four beaches, private islands, boat excursions, tennis courts, empty parks and playgrounds, walks in nature and no-waiting golf.

Ah … summer in Greenwich, blessed be thy name.


Christopher von Keyserling is a Republican and a longtime member of the town’s Representative Town Meeting, though the opinions expressed in this column are his own.

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