Saturday, May 18, 2013

Turnout low, but election doesn't require double majority

As of May 17, the vote-by-mail turnout in Deschutes County for Tuesday's special election stood at a pathetic 20 percent.

That's actually good news for the two main money issues facing voters here because this election does not require a "double majority" for them to pass. That means turnout does not need to exceed 50 percent of registered voters for the final vote to count.

From the Oregon Dept. of Revenue:

"In November 2008, Oregon voters approved Ballot Measure 56 (Article XI, section 11k), which modified this 'double majority' requirement. A measure submitted in an election held in any May or November is exempt from the requirement."

Some lazy Oregonians assume that if they don't vote they'll have a greater impact than if they voted "no."

Well, special elections usually bring out those who are in favor of particular bond measures and the measures have a good chance of passing with a low turnout.

In Bend, we have a $96 million bond measure to build a couple of new schools and renovate many others in the school district. Supposedly, it is "revenue neutral" because it will replace bonds that are ending or that have been restructured at a more favorable rate. You can bet, though, your property tax bill will increase next November even if this bond doesn't contribute to the increase.

Since we're still experiencing stagnant growth in Bend, the school bond measure isn't critical right now. The main reason this bond measure has significant support from anti-government Republicans is because the local building industry needs the work. Normally, this sector of the economy rails against government spending, but, like an alcoholic when a bottle of bourbon is in sight, gets the shakes when big government money is within reach.

That said, many of the schools could use some retrofitting and the measure deserves a "yes" vote.

The other money measure is yet another levy to fund 911 operations for the next five years. Actually, 911 has the money it needs, but just wants more. There is no reason to vote for this measure particularly since the public safety sector rarely, if ever, supports public education measures. Vote "no."

Of course, with a low turnout, it will likely pass. Oh well. Could be worse.

There's no time to mail your ballot now. But, there are plenty of drop-site locations.

So, for all those who believe that by not voting at all will doom the money measures, I hope you lose.

Democracy is for those who participate, not for the deadbeats.

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