Greening Idaho --It's a long way to springtime, but Idaho might be greening up anyway. The Idaho Green Party has been gathering signatures (it needs at least 10,000) to get on the official Idaho state ballot for primary elections.
"Our goal is to [be ready] by March," says Robert McMinn, spokesman for the Idaho Green Party. "The mandate for the statewide entity is to encourage different groups to start up."
Both Ada and Bonner counties have active Green Party chapters, and on Dec. 11, McMinn will head to Coeur d'Alene for the first Kootenai County Green Party meeting. Coeur d'Alene resident Rebecca McNeill is heading efforts to start the Kootenai County chapter.
"The Green Party really focuses on being involved locally. Even if people just have questions about the Green Party, they're welcome to attend this meeting," McNeill says.
Call (208) 651-0797 for details.
Turnout Totals -- Many have wondered why the last two mayors of Spokane have served just three years. John Talbott and John Powers each have seemingly been shortchanged. The reason is that the state mandates that mayoral races must be held in off-years from congressional races and other national offices. Since the strong mayor system passed in 1999, Talbott and Powers' tenures were shortened to get the office back on the state's track. The reason the state prefers the off-years is that voting experts believe crowded ballots lead to problems: Candidates at the bottom of the ballot often don't get votes. (Apparently, voters run out of steam halfway through the ballot.) So mayoral candidates could get shortchanged on a crowded ballot.
Sounds a little iffy to us; by voting for mayors in off-years, the state seems to be mandating lower voter turnouts. This is all a sad comment on the state of our "democracy," because the voters are really the problem. But at least if mayoral races were, say, in presidential years, we'd have a chance at bigger turnouts, thereby creating more of a mandate for the city's leader.
According to the Spokane County Elections Office, the final turnout from last month's general election was about 46 percent, countywide. That's not 46 percent of the total population; no, of all the people registered to vote in Spokane County, fewer than half bothered to do so. And this in an era when you can vote by mail!
But in 2000, when the mayoral race coincided with the presidential race and the governor's race, 76 percent turned out. In the general elections of 1998 and 2002 -- years with congressional races -- the turnout was 59 percent. In 2001, it was 43 percent.
If we're this lame at voting, perhaps we should only hold elections every two years: It would be cheaper, and we'd get better turnouts.