It's just a little local election, but...
A quick follow-up to my weekend post about the local bond election here in San Antonio. All five bond measures passed, all by comfortable margins. That's not of much interest outside the area, I wouldn't think. But what you might want to know about is the voter turnout: a whopping 6.7% of eligible voters. That's how the local newspaper worded it; I'm not sure whether that's out of all registered voters, or includes those who would have been eligible but didn't register. At any rate, about 40,000 votes were cast in a city of some 1.3 million people.
Exactly how does that sort of thing advance democracy?
The funny thing is that compared to some of the monstrosities found, for example, on California statewide ballots, these local bond issues are reasonably straightforward and easy to understand for voters who don't want to dedicate their lives to it. And there's an argument that ballot questions make more sense in city-sized polities (although perhaps not as large as San Antonio) but not with larger electorates, where representative institutions make more sense. But all of that seems rather pointless if basically they hold elections and no one shows up.
I have no idea about this particular situation, but I mostly assume that the circumstances that lead to very low turnout races (nothing of note on the ballot, an unusual Saturday election instead of the normal Tuesday) are deliberate: the people who put these things to the voters know that the most habitual voters support them. Again, no idea of whether it's true or not for this particular case.
The whole thing just seems really silly to me. I'd much rather just have the elected officials take responsibility for governing, and risk defeat if voters don't like what they're up to. I really have no idea at all what the history of bond elections is, but I have to say that I don't see the point, and apparently most of my fellow citizens here don't either.