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Trying to rock the vote

Only one in five Philadelphians opted to vote Tuesday even though, with five members retiring, the primary represented the largest Council turnover in two decades.

Readers offer insight on Tuesday's historic low mayoral primary turnout, and ways we might improve the system.

Al Jara from the Northwest writes: "As an independent voter I could not vote in the primary.  When I was registered with a party I didn't miss a primary or a general election.  I am surprised changes are coming.  Why are there some running unopposed?  No one should run unopposed.  I will not vote for anyone running unopposed.  We must end gerrymandering for the good of the city. not just the good of incumbents.  How can we do this?   I plan to vote for change in the coming general election.  All who are in I will vote out.  There is someone else who may be better.  Perhaps each party taking a real stand on issues instead of the fluff they hand us will set a fire in those who don't vote.  Jobs, education, DROP and race would be a  start.  Please vote.  We deserve better."

Someone who only identifies himself as "thomast" in an insulting (at least to this writer, typical of our nastier posters) but still insightful post: "The reasons why turnout is so low: the structural and legal obstacles that incumbents have put up to protect themselves. I voted yesterday, but if we had open primaries, instant runoff/preferential voting, publicly financed campaigns, or any other of a host of plans that have been put forth by those who want to see real change, then people would see that voting CAN result in real change, and then they'd vote more. But low turnout makes the situation easier to control for those already in power, and so they try and keep it that way."

Joseph Russell asks: "Like you, I'm saddened by the small number of voters who made it out on primary day last Tuesday. But this kind of turnout is going to persist unless the city does something drastic: changing the year of the general election for city council and the mayor. If the elections were held on even numbered years, with the best case of being the same year as a presidential election, the numbers would dramatically increase. Is something like this possible? Is it within the city commissioner's power to change the years elections are held? Even if whoever was elected mayor was around for one more year during the transition, it would do immeasurable good to the political health of the city. I look forward to hearing your response. I really do believe we can make Philadelphia better by taking small, common sense steps like this."

Keep those suggestions coming. The insults we can do without.

--Karen Heller