Term Paper: Local Elections in the City

Pages: 8 (2512 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Government  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] These are the ages at which a great deal of people are still students who move from flat to flat with great frequency. Many people in this age group are also either single and just entering the job force or newly married and trying to make their way in the world. Any of these situations can result in a great mobility of residence and/or in having little money. For those who have not finished their education of who have not gone to university, the lack of education combined with the lack of money and the mobile residence can add up to no interest in voting in local elections at all. A further check of the census data shows that thirty-two point three percent of people living in York are single, thus adding to the likelihood that these people are mobile in their places of residence. Taking these statistics into account, then, it is not surprising that the voter turnout in York was as low as it was in the May 2003 election. In fact, the percentages of young people and single people in York are such that they can almost be directly attributable to the low voter turnout.

However, there is still a third variable which must be considered in this problem. The vicinity of the voters to the polling places has been found to have a bearing on how many people participate in the local elections. In areas in which residents live less than five minutes away from the polling place for a local election, voter turnout has been found to be very high, almost sixty-five percent in some cases. However, in areas in which voters lived more than five minutes away from their polling places, voter turnout dropped astoundingly to around thirty-five percent. This indicates that voters want convenience in their polling places, probably because people today lead such busy lives that it is difficult for them to take much time out of their day to go and vote in a local election. Many of them probably feel that if it is convenient for them to get to the polling place and to vote, then they will do it and will likely feel good about having a say in the operation of their local government. However, if the polling place is too far away for it to be quick and convenient for them to get there, then the voters feel as if it is just not worth it. Proximity to the polling place can also be an issue in areas in which there are a large number of senior citizens or young people, because both groups tend to have large percentages of members who either do not drive or who find it difficult to travel. When a person does not drive or does not travel well and the polling place is a long distance away, then that person is naturally unlikely to go and vote, especially if that person feels that he or she does not have a big stake in the outcome of the election.

While the city of York has a relatively small percentage of senior citizens at eight point two percent, it does have a substantial percentage of young people who live there, as has been previously shown. This combination of old and young people may have a bearing on how many people are able to get to the polls. York is a relatively large city, and it can be expected that not all of the polling places, or even most of them, are in areas that are convenient for some people to get to. In fact, sixteen point six percent of people in York reported having had a long-term illness on the last census, something that could affect their ability to get to the polls to vote if the polls are too far away from their places of residence. Twenty-one point seven percent of people in York reported health that was only "fairly good" and eight percent of people in York reported having poor health, which can again be factors in their ability to get to the polls.

Twenty-three point one percent of people in York reported living in detached housing, while thirty-seven point three percent reported living in semi-detached housing. These are housing types that are typical of suburban areas that are away from the main part of the city. Suburban areas are characterized by sprawling areas of housing development that can often be located several miles away from any sort of business or other economic activity. This means that in these areas, unless a polling place is located inside of someone's home, then the people who live in these areas are going to be forced to drive several miles away from their homes in order to find a polling place. Not only will this situation result in fewer young, old, and ill people coming out to vote in local elections, it will reduce the rate of participation in local elections among all groups in this area.

This paper has examined three reasons as to why voter turnout in the May 2003 city of York elections may have been so low. Each of these reasons was examined in light of the results of political studies regarding why voter turnout in local elections is so low in many democratic nations. People already do not feel as if local elections are as important as national elections, and voter turnout results are smaller than in national elections across the board. However, without voter participation in local elections, these local governments lack the legitimacy that is needed in a democratic government, even at the local level. The results of This paper clearly show what three of the main reasons are for this low level of voter turnout for local elections, and gives solutions as to how this situation can be remedied.

References

Rallings, C. And Thrasher, M. (1997). Local Government Elections in Britain. London, Routledge.

Statistics About York." (2004). Neighborhood Statistics. Retrieved on January 12, 2004 at http://neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/AreaProfileFrames.

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Local Elections in the City.  (2004, January 13).  Retrieved April 24, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/local-elections-city/2471199

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"Local Elections in the City."  Essaytown.com.  January 13, 2004.  Accessed April 24, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/local-elections-city/2471199.