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57 Comments

  1. 1

    Brian

    I voted, but most of the people were just names on the paper, and I know little about how the decisions that the people in those roles impact my life. And I spend a lot of time reading about what is going on in our community, and like to think that I’m well-informed. I’d imagine that that 82% knows even less than I do about the importance of these elections, so it’s hard to get motivated to show up.

  2. 2

    Thomas Porter

    A couple of my friends said “they completely forgot about it”, another said it wasn’t a “real” election so he didn’t vote, I think the bigger issue is people are just so tired of current politics that they’ve become jaded to the whole process. While I empathize with that viewpoint, I also realize that in local elections, your specific vote COUNTS, and nothing will effect your everyday life more than your vote. It took me 5 minutes to vote, a very small price.

  3. 3

    Martin

    Whatever. New crook same as the old crook.

  4. 4

    Heather

    I will preface this by saying I voted. Our voting system is antiquated. They make it impossible for people to vote. Both my husband and I tried to vote at our sons school when we went to his kindergarten graduation, but bc it wasn’t our polling place we couldn’t. I ask, why can’t you scan my license and pull up the correct district ballot? Why can’t I vote anywhere at any location? The world is changing rapidly but we have a voting system stuck in the 1950s. I was able to get back to vote at our regular place but my husband wasn’t. Not because he didn’t want to but because life happens and he wasn’t able to.

  5. 5

    Voter

    It was kind of hard to figure out who to vote for, until I got blocked by one of the candidates on Facebook, so I knew exactly who to vote against! Apparently many felt the same way as this candidate lost.

    I spent a lot of time researching other candidates in this particular primary to figure out who was best. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find out positions of the various candidates unless you have time to go to various debates and I don’t read their mailings because those are meant to be confusing.

  6. 6

    Right To Gripe

    Thank you for writing this article. As I mentioned yesterday, I was very disappointed in the turn out compared to the primaries. Where is the passion for local politics that are jumping boards for higher office? Hopefully, more voters will appear for the run off, but I highly doubt people will show even if there are fewer candidates to research. It’s easy to research with the internet. For example, enter “Stan Watson” DeKalb in Google, click on the News option. Make a decision. As my wise spouse says about life in general, any decision is worse than no decision at all. Exercising your right to decide instead of giving politicians the impression that the citizens don’t care, would go a long way in making them feel like they need to be accountable. What ever happened to the Vote Today signs that used to be posted in neighborhoods?

  7. 7

    Treasure Your Rights

    Many Americans today do not understand the value and importance of our gift of the vote. Many of us don’t understand what freedom is and its cost. What is commonly accepted in America is a jailable or executable offence in some countries. Much of our history has been rewritten and taught in a manner to put America in a negative light. Many of those armed with this false information despise America. In reality, America with all its faults has done more to right its wrongs more than any country in the world. Our freedom has made us complacent and we ignore the opportunity the vote gives us to make constructive changes in our government by voting for those that can effect change. Instead, we either don’t vote or we continue to send the same clowns back to office. Or worse, send clearly defective candidates back to office.

    Voting guidelines are set by state governments. Collectively, it is time for states to dump from voting rolls those that miss two voting opportunities in a row. Once off, you stay off for a year. There is nothing wrong with our current voting system. Although I disagree with early voting, between it and absentee voting it gives no excuse for those that say they were unable to make it to the polls on election day. If you don’t vote, you deserve to lose the ability to vote.

  8. 8

    Eric Robert

    I agree its far too low. One way to increase voting would be to do early voting locations until 10 or 11 in the evening so that those who have to work 9 to 5 etc have are able to vote without having to take off from work. However primaries have low voter turnout. If we didn’t gerrymander districts or stick to party lines so heavily there would be choices in November when it is easier to research the candidates and turnout is naturally higher.

  9. 9

    Jean

    Thanks for your coverage and your thoughts. We can’t imagine what it would take to awaken a sleeping electorate. Civics are everyone’s job.

  10. 10

    pat

    If only 82% of voters were at least minimally informed about the issues, offices, and candidates, then I have no problem with the turnout. What has been frightening to me more and more, given the state of political activities, from the local level to the national level, is my quality of life depending on the votes of people who base their vote on 30-second sound bites from usually biased news media, impressions they get from the physical appearance of advocates of issues or candidates, or just blindly picking from an array of candidates and issues totally unknown to them. I would just as soon they not vote, and just go about whatever business is more important to them than familiarizing themselves with the issues and candidates.

    Voting should be a right that is given to qualified individuals. But, rights come with responsibilities. In this case, logically, the least of those responsibilities are 1) know for who and what you are voting, at least minimally (inform yourself), and 2) show up to vote.

  11. 11

    pat

    Excuse my misspeaking. What I meant to write was:

    If only 18% of voters were at least minimally informed about the issues, offices, and candidates, then I have no problem with the turnout.

  12. 12

    Jennifer

    Martin,
    That happens because we allow that to happen by not being engaged in our local elections.

  13. 13

    Jennifer

    I agree, it takes time to find out about the candidates and not just the information from them or about them by the other candidates. Don’t you feel that your investment in your local, county, city, and schools is worth spending a few minutes doing research?

  14. 14

    Susan

    That’s right, Jennifer, engagement in government is important. Many surrounding Dresden Drive want to blame DeKalb for the two developments that were started before Brookhaven became a city. In reality, it was the apathy and disengagement with government that allowed those developments to be constructed as they are. Thanks to you and your vigilance for the past few months area residents are paying attention and the involvement of the entire community gets attention. You rock!

  15. 15

    Jennifer

    Pat,
    While I agree with you that an uninformed vote is as bad in many cases as not voting I can’t accept that 82% of our residents feel that it is okay to let someone else decide what is best for them. It is telling and very much one of the reasons some of our “bigger government” politicians are winning support.

    Once we surrender the ability to have a voice in our surroundings we are stuck with what we get. For example our City of Brookhaven, we don’t attend planning and zoning meetings and then get upset when there is a late night establishment, or not enough parking, or a 5 story apartment complex built “overnight” next to us. We have complaints about how parks are designed or sold, roads are paved, sidewalks are built and dollars are spent, but were we at the meetings, did we tell our elected officials (elected by a small % – so mostly family and friends) to knock it off? Did we let them know by voting for the person that really represented us that we are watching and we expect a transparent and open city government. It appears that most don’t care enough to voice their opinion so I am sure we won’t hear all of the non voters complaining when the developments pop-up on Ashford Dunwoody, Dresden, North Druid Hills, Peachtree, Johnson’s Ferry and Buford Highway and we will be completely satisfied with what happens to our parks and green spaces. We will be ecstatic with traffic increases and dis-functionality of spending that takes place with the taxes we pay. We must be because again we DECIDE not to pay attention and not hold the elected officials accountable.

    I’m guessing that since 82% think everything is great and felt no need to vote The Post will only have 18% of the commentary this year, right?

  16. 16

    Holden Fink

    And, those people are the same people in District 3 that let Bates Mattison run unopposed who therefor gave him a vote of confidence he’s doing a grand ol job.

  17. 17

    Jennifer

    For the ones that didn’t vote yes. There were more issues than you know about trying to get someone to run. Those of us that were voting were working diligently to find someone to run but most of us are working folk and employers aren’t so excited about the thought of their employee being involved in politics.

  18. 18

    pat

    Jennifer, thank you for your thoughtful comments I speak as a member on the District 2 Community Council that has reviewed and made recommendations on zoning and land use applications to the Planning Committee through a number of cycles. Just considering county government for now, some residents involve themselves to the point they do make a difference by showing up to the appropriate series of meetings and voicing their opinions, by emailing and calling county officials and BOC members, and by posting their assessment of the situation on social media sites.

    For my part, I usually try to disseminate as much information as I can while trying not to force my biases on anyone, which some might say is impossible to do. Like anyone, I do have biases. So, I recommend people use more than one source for their information.

    When residents show up for zoning and land use meetings, they make a difference. When they don’t, they get what others decided for them. Showing up des not guarantee they’ll get what they want, but decision-makers will have more than silence to think about.

    Unfortunately, apathy seems to be the rule rather than the exception.

  19. 19

    bldvl89

    Im just glad that the 18% who did vote were smart enough to elect Michael Thurmond, Sherry Boston (two clearly superior candidates over the rest of their respective fields), and pass E-splost – and not put Stan Watson in anywhere.

    At the city level, there wasnt much else at stake, unless you signed up for a GOP ballot to pick the HD80 candidate that will likely be Taylor Bennett cannon fodder in November. Hilarious that Bennett earned more votes than any other GOP candidate – even though he wasnt running and wasnt on the Dem ballot (at least not mine).

    Catherine Bernard would easily have been his biggest threat because of her cross-party appeal to a wide middle, but instead Taylor will get another GOP candidate with the D-1 faction centered around J-Max hanging off their neck. That’s more than enough weight to sink another candidacy . . .

  20. 20

    Eddie E.

    Thanks Trey!

    Primary turnout MIGHT improve if we picked a fricking date and stuck with it (like we did until about 2010). The lunacy of details like the ‘SEC Primary’ followed by a ridiculously early State Primary (the candidates qualified in April), it certainly provides a situation for people to lose interest because they don’t really have time to acquaint themselves with candidates and/or issues.
    But it is worth the effort!
    If we don’t make that effort, we deserve the losers who float to the top.

  21. 21

    Reality Bites

    A soundbite I saw on the local news has stuck with me and pretty much sums it up: “DeKalb County has the lowest damn information voters in the country.”

    In light of that, it’s probably a good thing that only 18% of eligible voters went to the polls.

  22. 22

    Melanie Pollard

    Agreed, Thomas! It is disheartening. We spent 100’s of hours last year researching and recommending modifications to the Tree Ordinance to close the loopholes for our rapidly disappearing canopy (3+% between 2010-2013) – none of which was passed even though they claimed to “work with residents”. So business as usual.

    I spent much more time reading about the politicians than I did voting which took maybe 10 minutes tops. At the end of the day, government is run by those who show up. I have learned that the hard way with the New City of Brookhaven and will not be so complacent ever again.

    It took 30 minutes to leave my neighborhood last week- 20 minutes longer than 3-5 years ago- so I missed the event I was in traffic for 1.5 hours to get to in COA (typically a 30 minute drive). We have 1 foot of standing water in our yard with each flash flooding storm, thousands of dollars worth of damages permitted by the city. There are no curbs or drains on our street. Why is this when the average new mac-mansion being built on our once-shady street is $1 Million plus?

    When do you think the City of Brookhaven will utilize the USDA satellite imagery released this February and conduct a real GIS study and greenspace infrastructure strategy? The price is only $10-$12K to apply GIS and it shows what we have, what we’ve lost, where the hot spots are, parks, stormwater, etc. etc.. Why do you think they haven’t?

  23. 23

    Flubber

    I think the candidates have some responsibility to ensure that people receive accurate information about their positions on various issues that do not denigrate their opponents. That really didn’t happen in this election; I actually didn’t even see that many yard signs.

  24. 24

    Flubber

    Or better yet, enable authenticated online voting for those who use online resources. For the others who don’t, I agree that anyone should be able to vote at any of the polls. It would be so easy to do with the bare minimum of computer programming.

  25. 25

    pat

    Flubber wrote, “I think the candidates have some responsibility to ensure that people receive accurate information about their positions…”

    He is a talented political organizer and strategized, but based on the manipulative nature of his past involvement, could anyone actually expect Stan Watson to give voters “accurate information about (his) positions”?

    Or, Barnes Sutton to discuss the activities that have her on a tightrope just short of falling into an investigation that might lead to her removal or indictment?

    Or, Warren Mosby, Barnes Sutton’s paramour who ran for the commission seat of super district 6, to openly chat about his contracts with the county and Barnes Sutton that were arranged by her?

    Voters have to take responsibility for informing themselves about the candidates, as well as the issues.

  26. 26

    Right To Gripe

    Georgia Code: “Employees that give reasonable notice to their employers have two hours to vote in any election for which they are qualified to vote. If the hours of work of such employee commence at least two hours after the opening of the polls or end at least two hours prior to the closing of the polls, however, the time off for voting is not available.”

  27. 27

    Genie

    Thank you, Trey. Voting took maybe ten minutes. I could have voted early. Ahead of time, I reviewed the non-partisan 2016 Voters Guide available online and provided jointly by the League of Women Voters (LWV), the AJC, and WSB-TV and took my completed mock ballot with me. Next time, I’ll spend some time checking names I’m considering voting for, because I missed some history about the candidates. E-SPLOST is a very big deal because this was THE determining vote on a major issue about education and taxes (I’m so glad it passed!) We voted on other issues that I’d never heard would be included; afterwards, I called the state, DeKalb, and the parties to find out more. The state parties used the primaries to determine support for positions they are considering moving forward in the state house. Four “questions” were included on the Democratic ballot and one on the Republican. My points are that nothing was difficult about this process except unraveling the surprise about the “questions” and that this wasn’t “just” a primary: it contained a key vote, gave input to the parties, and, not incidentally, decided who moves forward to the election.

  28. 28

    Truth

    The election system is corrupt. For example, let’s look at the creation of Brookhaven. You can’t argue that the good ole boy system placed the election in July which had a low turnout, but it served its purpose to have Jay Max and his boys’ agenda pass because who votes on these dates??

  29. 29

    Gigi

    And also the same people in District 4 where Sharon Barnes Sutton is actually still in the race, heading to a runoff. Disgraceful!

  30. 30

    Davis

    Thanks for starting this conversation, Trey. The low turnout is particularly disappointing after all of the turmoil and dysfunction we’ve experienced in DeKalb. The concepts employed in our Georgia voting system are antiquated and need modernization. There are many improvements that can make it easier to vote, encourage participation and make elections more representative of the will of the people. However, those improvements threaten the elected officials and the people who put them in power. Here is site that examines voting alternatives. http://www.fairvote.org/

  31. 31

    Marie

    My case is that I didn’t realize the primary was Tuesday for Dekalb. How were residents reminded or notified. Please don’t say local news stations. I, for one, cannot stand to watch local news. I find other ways of being informed. Did Dekalb do everything within its power to remind residents to get out and vote? I can assure you that I missed that memo. Is it possible that more residents would be willing to take time to vote if Dekalb took more time to actually show care and appreciation for residents? Mainly though, if you want people to connect and care, then Dekalb has to find a way to connect to those 82%. I maybe way off here, but just my 2cents.

  32. 32

    Michael

    With voter turnouts this low, each vote gets magnifies to represent four other people. You get 5 other people to vote for your guy, now you’ve spoken for 25 people. National elections are great, but nothing has a great impact on day-to-day life than these local primaries.

  33. 33

    Michael

    Hard to vote?! You get a card in the mail with your polling location, show up, cast a ballot, and on with your day. Its never taken me more than 10 mins to park, walk inside, vote, and leave. You can’t go where ever you want because your votes are anonymous. Tracking people voting where ever they want and ensuring the votes went to the right spots, right ballots, etc. would be crazy difficult. These “inconvenience” excuses are ridiculous. “Impossible” to vote? Give me a freakin’ break.

  34. 34

    Jennifer

    best quotes yet about Atlanta tree ordinance that can also apply to Brookhaven’s: “Right now the city can’t make (developers) save trees. They can just make them pay the fee,”

  35. 35

    Jennifer

    My point exactly Truth. If you are for or against the city the vote was very close and if there had been a larger turn out the results could have been different. In this case low participation resulted in key politicians and their friends making a decision that affects us all – good or bad. If you are for the city, then it’s good, if you are not a fan of the city then it was bad, but the majority did not vote and thus got what they got. Sometimes the political machine would prefer a low turn out and they try to keep things quiet to make sure they get the vote they want – this is really true in local elections so it falls on the citizens to stay informed. The right to vote comes with responsibility – and jury duty, but it is very critical to preserving your freedoms.

  36. 36

    Saul

    Regarding the Brookhaven city vote, low voter turnout is exactly what Mike Jacobs was looking for.

  37. 37

    Flubber Flubber

    I have actually always wanted a non-partisan objective resource to put all of the issues into a spreadsheet and objectively analyze where each candidate stands on those issues. There were numerous candidates on the docket this time, and most voters who are busy professionals don’t really have the time they need to thoroughly analyze these issues based on information that is readily at hand.

  38. 38

    Tom

    I couldn’t find any information about who and what was on the ballot. I would have been voting blind….and over the years I’ve come to realize that you have to be careful about who you vote for in DeKalb.

  39. 39

    Patrick

    Saul,the voters knew that this vote was coming 13 months BEFORE we voted, many voters choose not to vote.

  40. 40

    Patrick

    Marie, the primary election was know for over two months ago, I guess a poor excuse is better than no excuse. I wonder, how many people will claim that they don’t know of the runoff on July 26 for both parties, even though it is known for two months ahead of time.

  41. 41

    Saul

    You would be surprised to learn how many people had no idea Brookhaven became a city after the vote. We knew, we pay attention.

  42. 42

    Jennifer

    Marie,
    While Patrick chooses to respond as most by being condescending to someone that does not spend the bulk of their time online, I have been arguing this point for my neighbors for about a year. Here is my point of view…
    While the millennials and many others are connected to many various digital outlets you would be surprised how many people are not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, NextDoor or other standard social media outlets. Many don’t look at The Brookhaven Post or the AJC etc on a daily bases and may or may not watch the news or get delivery of the printed paper. Many are digitally connected but again are not daily users of social media, they watch Netflix, listen to satellite or online radio without commercials and news breaks. Sure if you are doing these things you should make an attempt to connect for news from time to time but if you have kids, a job, sports, hobbies, pets…. your time is not your own. It used to be that people listened to radios in the car, got news papers and watched network tv but our world has changed and we haven’t figured out how to get the message out as effectively when these outlets don’t carry the local information.

    Dekalb sanitation put flyer on the mailboxes about the new pickup program because they realized that not everyone is on their site, listens to the news or checks online sources. I do recommend that you check with DeKalb or your city to see if they do an email newsletter weekly or monthly and if not you can contact us at info@wearebrookhavenga.com to get added to our email pushes for local Brookhaven events.

    My best suggestion for you is to check The Brookhaven Post everyday as Trey does a great job of getting the important information out and doesn’t include the sensational stories to try and keep you

  43. 43

    Truth

    Voters knew? Some may have some have not. The point is Brookhaven is a perfect example of having influential friends in places to have the vote in the summer, especially when folks are on vacation and so on. This vote should have been held during the November election, which is when many people turn out and vote.

    While I agree you should always vote and exercise your rights that many lost their lives to preserve. However, I also agree the status quo prevailed in the influencial benefits of rushing and making it in July.

    What is done is done, but the TRUTH is friends with influence can make it happen to modify their own agenda is wrong. The vote barely passed. As for me, I was not able to be heard. Why? Well because I happened to be on vacation that was planned way before Jay and his boys decide to make it in July, real slick move.

  44. 44

    Truth

    You can’t blame DeKalb. You have to blame the system which is the state as a whole.

  45. 45

    Brittany Mother

    It’s going to be fun watching people continue to blame DeKalb as Brookhaven allows Peachtree and Dresden replicate what is now in Buckhead.

  46. 46

    Right To Gripe

    Tom, Check out the DeKalb County Election website. They always have a sample ballot. If there is something on the ballot you don’t understand, call your rep.

  47. 47

    Tammy

    I voted on the issues and people I were familiar with and left the rest blank. You can skip over the ones you are not aware of or didn’t get any info. on.
    Better to vote on at least what you know or want than to not vote at all or just guess.

  48. 48

    Patrick

    Truth, I am just wondering if in 2012 was there something called absentee voting? In absentee voting, one can vote up to 30 days before the election day.

  49. 49

    JoeA

    Congratulations and THANK YOU for your analysis and generating the conversation. Please consider a follow up analyzing highest and lowest individual precinct turnout, and turnout by commission district.

  50. 50

    Flubber

    eSPLOST is the worst idea ever. Dekalb County School System is not to be trusted with so much money without a very, very detailed list of projects pre-defined and shared with the public. They already have plenty of money…we’re already paying a very high millage rate for sub-par results.

  51. 51

    Wendy

    Maybe the DeKalb school system should have completed the last splost before they asked for another. DeKalb voters are not the smartest, just look at how they voted and that includes both ends of the county.

  52. 52

    Voter

    There are places in the world where people walk for days and stand in long lines to vote . This discussion is a #firstworldproblem

  53. 53

    Flubber

    Totally agree. A voted for the new one is a vote encouraging fiscal irresponsibility.

  54. 54

    Flubber

    Gotta say, I worked in this area at the time but did not yet live in it. There were signs everywhere. Kinda difficult not to know about that one.

  55. 55

    Eric Robert

    The primaries were statewide and #’s in DeKalb weren’t much different. So I don’t think anyone can blame DeKalb. I do think having the presidential primary separate from the this primary contributes to people not realizing there was a primary election. Or contributing to voter fatigue.

  56. 56

    HMM

    Having voted against Pres. G W Bush in Houston, Texas of all places, I think I’m a great example of someone that will vote regardless of predicted outcomes.

    That said, with all of the inner-party fighting and just general nastiness that can go on here in Georgia if one asks questions of the Democratic party- it’s really hard to muster up the energy to get involved when just asking questions makes someone labeled as disloyal- end of conversation: “you’re either with us or against us” (which sounds a lot like the Republican party).

    I understand that the whole Georgia Democratic Party has to deal with countless amounts of gawd knows what- but the whole”sit down and shut up and just vote for us” scolding to Democratic voters clearly isn’t working.

  57. 57

    HMM

    I feel like I should add- while I don’t know the voting history of Brookhaven/Dekalb/Fulton/Atlanta etc- I know some Republicans in the area are also fed up with being pressured to “tow the party line”, particularly after this whole “religious liberty law” national debacle.

    It was a national embarrassment for Georgia- but many Georgia Republicans felt very pressured to support it and I know that has left a lot of fiscal conservatives feeling angry with the whole process.

    (Personally it just makes me want to vote more, but unfortunately I think most people have the opposite reaction.)

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