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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 20, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

News

Elections yield low turnout

Local elections may not be winning as much media attention as next year’s presidential bids, but several important local races were decided during Election Day on Tuesday.

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Ithaca resident Pauline Layton heads into a voting booth Tuesday at the Circle Apartment Community Center voting station. Connor Gleason/The Ithacan

According to the Tompkins County Board of Elections, approximately 1,593 citizens voted in elections held in the Town of Ithaca, while 1,330 votes were cast in the City of Ithaca.

Turnout declined steeply from last year, where approximately 5,849 Town of Ithaca voters and 5,689 City of Ithaca citizens voted in the midterm elections and governor’s race.

Junior Kerry Samuels voted Tuesday at the Circles Community Center polling station for the Town of Ithaca elections. She said it is important to vote as a citizen of greater Ithaca.

“I know that I am a member of not only the Ithaca College community, but of the community around me as well,” Samuels said. “These lawmakers make decisions which affect everyone living around here.”

Steve DeWitt, Democratic commissioner of elections for the Tompkins County Board of Elections, said it is important for students to vote in local elections.

“Anyone eligible to vote should vote,” DeWitt said. “It’s great when everyone gets out to make decisions for their community.”

Key races in the Town of Ithaca elections included town councilperson and town supervisor spots, while the City of Ithaca elections decided mayoral and alderperson victors.

Many voters were also dissatisfied with the number of candidates, including incumbent mayor Carolyn Peterson, running unopposed. Senior Harland Jones said there is no value in voting with such a limited field.

“I don’t see the point in voting in a race like this,” Jones said. “There are no national candidates, and the word of Ithaca College officials is more important to me than that of local officials. Besides, nearly all of them are unopposed, so who wants to vote when the winner has been chosen?”

Tom Shevory, professor and chair of the politics department, said troubles could arise from candidates running unopposed in national elections over time, but he doesn’t see a problem with the recent local election.

“One election cycle where local candidates run unopposed shouldn’t be damaging,” he said. “It just means that people are not so dissatisfied that they wish to see immediate change.”

The next major election held in Ithaca will be the Presidential Primary on Feb. 5. To be eligible, voters 18 and older must register by Jan. 11.