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City's 3rd precincthas poorshowingat polls

Nov. 4, 1999

By CHRIS ALLEN

Staff writer

Tuesday's statewide referendum election came and went relatively unnoticed at Baylor.

According to Jill Horton, a senior from Temple and election judge for the 3rd Precinct, which encompasses most of Baylor University, only 36 votes were cast the entire day. Just five of these were from students, she said.

Polls were open at the Wiethorn Visitors Center from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

The 3rd Precinct, which stretches from La Salle Avenue to the railroad tracks and the Brazos River to Eighth Street, has 1,749 eligible voters. Only 2 percent of these voters took the time to participate, a fact she attributes to a lack of media attention.

'It was not a very publicized election,' Horton said. 'A lot of people didn't even know there was an election until they read about it the next day.'

Dr. Donald Greco, a political science professor with a focus on political participation, election and behavior, was not surprised by a low turnout.

'There has been enough writing and scholarship on this issue to cost several forests here and there,' he said. 'It is a real paradox. This country prides itself on freedom and political rights, but in large abundance they ignore it.'

Greco attributes the apathy to the absence of candidates and a lack of controversial ballot issues. But he expected turnout to be closer to 30 percent than 2 percent. Still, he doesn't blame the media for not drumming up voter enthusiasm.

'It is the political structure, governmental structure and electoral structure that ought to be responsible for mobilizing voters,' he said. 'We shouldn't rely on the media to do those things.'

According to Greco, the national voter turnout is close to 50 percent, but only about 30 percent of voters between 18 and 25 years of age typically turn out.

But is it the fault of the young people who don't turn out or the fault of a candidate that doesn't pay attention to young voters?

'We have sort of a chicken and the egg here,' Greco said. 'But one thing is certain: politicians will pay attention to whoever they think will get out and vote for them.'