Commentary
10:45 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Editor's Weekly: Vote

Credit Rachel Heidenry | File photo | St. Louis Beacon

Next Tuesday, Missouri voters will write the ending to a summer season of political melodrama. Will you vote?

Chances are slim. Turnout in an August primary often runs as low as 25 percent. This primary features some hot contests, including the Democratic race for St. Louis County executive and the measure that would raise the sales tax for transportation construction. Still, amid the drone of attack ads and competing claims, charge and counter charge, you may have simply tuned out. Campaigns are noisy and confusing, and it takes energy to cut through the cacophony.

Will you vote?

Some pollster may have called to ask you that. Campaign strategists have grown increasingly sophisticated in identifying supporters and turning them out. Candidates win by using targeted appeals to aggregate a winning coalition. That works well on election day, not so well for building broad consensus around common issues that you need to govern effectively.

Targeted appeals are especially powerful when turnout is low, when a few dozen votes  can make the difference. In other words, at least some of the candidates and causes don’t even want you to show up next Tuesday.

Will you vote?

In recent years, there’s been much hand-wringing about the role of money in politics. Sure, it matters. It enables campaigns to get their messages out. It enables monied interests to return cycle after cycle to push their causes. For donors, money opens doors to power.

But money is only one factor. Just ask Rex Sinquefield, Missouri’s biggest political donor. His win-loss record in recent years has been far from perfect. Money talks, but citizens decide – if they show up to vote.

Will you vote?

There’s still time to tune in. This week, St. Louis Public Radio politics editor Susan Hegger pulled together some essentials for those who haven’t been paying attention or who could use a quick refresher on what’s at stake. One post highlights ballot issues – the transportation tax plus initiatives on farming, guns, privacy and lottery funding for veterans services. The other post summarizes key races and where candidates stand. We hope they’ll help you make up your own mind about how to vote.

Will you vote?

You can find your polling place through the Missouri Secretary of State website.