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The Ultimate in Voter Apathy

April 11th, 2007

Zero Votes Cast in City Council Election

If you have ever wondered what would happen if we had an election where no one actually voted, we will no longer need to wait for the result.

This situation became reality yesterday in the town of Missouri City, Missouri when none the 35 registered voters in Ward 3 — including the incumbent himself — bothered to go the polls and vote. Ward 3 incumbent Joe Selle, who apparently forgot that there was an election yesterday, will still be allowed to serve another term on the city council even though no one voted for him due to an archaic city charter that was originally approved by the Missouri state legislature back in 1859. According to the charter, the incumbent gets to keep his office unless “another party is successfully elected and qualified”.

Interestingly, this same charter requires that the city’s mayor be a “free white male”. However, the City Council, citing modern civil rights legislation, decided to override this requirement in 2001 when the town elected its first female mayor.

Meanwhile, Michael Hampton at Homeland Stupidity made an excellent point a few days ago about how a small party or even a single person can still make a difference when it comes to elections and politics. In this particular case, all that was required for the removal of this incumbent was for one person to write in the name of another legally qualified resident of that district. These are the kinds of situations where we Libertarians can rack up some easy victories and begin to make a real difference at the local level if we can learn to recognize these opportunities and put forth a small amount of effort.

Yet at the same time, I also wonder about the folks who see voter apathy and intentional non-voting as a viable strategy for reducing the power of the State. After all, if we have reached the point where politicians cannot even be bothered to vote for themselves, do we really need these politicians?

UPDATE 8/27/08: It seems that the original story from KMBC-TV has been deleted, rendering the original link useless. I have managed to find a truncated version of the article from Associated Press here.


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