This June, during primary elections in Dona Ana County in southern New Mexico, 21% of the eligible voters turned out to cast their ballots. Not so good, you say. Well, 4 years before, in 2014 when the same set of elections were on the ballot, just 13% of eligible voters took part.
One key factor in the improvement was County Clerk Scott Krahling, who says of his accomplishment: “We have a lot of work to do.”
Krahling is part of a movement of reformist public servants who are casting off the old assumption that their job is just to administer the vote.
That limited approach fit the days before the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision liberated “dark money” and gave a small group of activist billionaires an outsized influence on American politics, national, state and local.
Funders like Charles and David Koch and Robert and Rebekah Mercer spent hundreds of millions of dollars to turn out only like-minded voters, and often worked to discourage or exclude voters they didn’t like.
That’s why, Krahling says it’s important that officials like him do everything they can to convince all citizens to vote.
When it comes to selling this idea, Krahling is concentrating on young voters…students in local colleges, universities and high schools…and he’s doing so for the same reason commercial sales managers push their products to the young. Not because they’re easier marks, but because once they make a buyer’s choice they are likely to stick with itfor a lifetime.
Which is exactly what Scott Krahling has in mind, getting young people to buy into the idea of voting every November.
Heath Haussamen, an award-winning journalist based in Las Cruces, NM. He is editor and publishers of the online news site NMPolitics.net where he won a first-place award for commentary writing in the 2017 multi-state Top of the Rockies contest. NMPolitics.net took home five journalism awards recently in the 2017 New Mexico Press Women contest.
Here is how Haussamen describes NMPolitics.net: “In these polarized times, NMPolitics.net operates from a belief that the best way forward is together – that we must do the hard work of listening and understanding each other so we can find solutions that work for as many people as possible. We aim to do journalism that fosters conversation and builds community.“