It’s time we talk about the election process here in Woodbury. It’s no surprise that people across Woodbury haven’t been given a fair share of information about how their local government runs, especially when it comes to the Council & Mayor positions.
Every year there is an election for three Council seats – that’s the race we’re running right now – and every other year there is also an election for the Mayor.
Now there are two parts to an election every year: the primary & the general.
The first part of the election process is the primary, where all candidates of the same party run against each other for the nomination. The primary election this year is Tuesday, June 8th. The primary is important because it determines who will run against the other party in the general.
The second part is the general, where the nominees run against each other for the actual win. The general election this year is Tuesday, November 2nd. This is the most important election because it determines who actually wins the race and assumes the office.
In Woodbury, this process has been thrown aside for a very long time.
There are nearly 10,000 people that live in Woodbury and 6,849 of them are registered to vote as of 2020. This includes Democrats, Republicans, and Independents (or “Unaffiliated”). In Ward 1 (Aaron’s Ward) there are 1,949 registered voters. In Ward 2 (Shelly’s Ward) there are 2,355 registered voters. In Ward 3 (Jamilah’s Ward) there are 2,545 registered voters.
The interesting thing about all of this information is that for starters, since 2012 the average voter turnout in Woodbury was only 28%. That means less than 2,000 registered voters in the City even vote from year-to-year or election-to-election.
What’s even more off-putting is the amount of votes it actually takes to get onto City Council. We told you in an earlier blog that to get on the ballot, a Democrat in Woodbury only needs a maximum of 3-4 signatures on their petition (depending on the Ward you live in). Well to win an election the same miniscule amount of votes seems to be required. In the 2019 primary election*, the Ward 1 candidate won with only 67 votes. Out of almost 2,000 registered voters in Ward 1 that is only 3.4% of voters; the numbers weren’t much different in Ward 2 (5.1%) or Ward 3 (4.1%) that year either.
(*No Republicans or Independents ran against the incumbents in this election)
The worst part about this information doesn’t deal with just numbers, but with the process itself. Like we mentioned, when a person is elected in the primary as a “nominee,” they move on to the general election. However, since 2017 there has been a surprising number of “swapped” candidates. This means that the person who wins in the primary election isn’t always the person that wins in the general election because they were swapped out with another candidate. In fact, in the last four election cycles, this has happened in three of them (2017, 2018, 2020).
The upsetting part about this process is that when candidates are swapped out, no matter the reason, we lose our opportunity to choose our representatives. If we vote for one person in June and come November it’s a person we don’t know, how are we sure these people have our best interests? A lot of times there are no announcements made by the local Party to alert voters of the change, and so when you receive your ballot, a lot of the time you find yourself asking the question, “Who the heck is this??”
Voting in an election is exactly how everyday residents use their voice. It’s how they put their beliefs into action and take charge of their concerns. Placing your voice and your trust in someone else to speak and make decisions on your behalf is not a choice that you should make lightly. A lack of information about how elections work and a lack of legitimate, qualified candidates takes away your authority, your action, and your voice. This year you finally have the chance to take it back! Weigh out the options, look at the data, ask questions, reach out… do whatever you feel like you should to make the best decision about who should represent your interests on Council.
If you’re not registered to vote, or you’re not sure if you are, click this link and scroll to the bottom to make it happen!
If you’d like access to the data we compiled to make this blog post, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!