Saratoga County elections fail to draw in voters: Voting apathy may have factored into Republican defeats

Posted by Max Siegelbaum

Democrats regained control over the Saratoga Springs City Council after the Nov. 8 elections, a defeat Republicans are attributing to low voter turnout, according to The Saratogian.

Of the five positions, Republican Anthony Scirocco and Democrat John Franck ran uncontested. Christian Mathiesen and Michele Madigan took the other seats on the five-person City Council, giving the Saratoga Democratic Party the majority in City Hall. Democrat Brent Wilkes lost to incumbent Republican Scott Johnson by 230 votes in the mayoral race.

Out of the 18,200 registered voters in Saratoga Springs, only 6,373 residents voted in the elections. Of these, approximately 40 were Skidmore students.

Bryn Schockmel '12, president of the Skidmore Democrats, said she was disappointed in the lack of student political involvement.

"We did all this build up leading to the election," she said. "On Election Day, we had some of the candidates come. We were really promoting it and trying to get people to vote. It was really discouraging because we have hundreds of students registered on campus and it doesn't take a lot time to vote.''

Schockmel attributed this to a general apathetic view of local town politics, saying some students believe Saratoga policy has little effect on their daily lives, which he disagrees on.

"Policy in Saratoga Springs really does affect you for the four years that you are here. Things about safety, downtown and transportation, that's all important and [low student participation is] just discouraging," Schockmel said.

This lack of student participation in local politics is not a recent occurrence. The Skidmore Democrats have had trouble motivating students in prior county elections.

"It was the same thing two years ago. We didn't have a very good turnout. That was a major election because our governor and two senators were up for election last year. It just seems like students aren't too interested," Schockmel said.

However, this is not to say that there is a complete lack of political motivation on campus. The presidential elections of 2008 brought extremely high levels of student participation. The same holds true for the rest of the nation, as off-year elections often result in lower voter participation than the presidential race.

In addition, for most students, Saratoga Springs is a temporary residence, and many students are registered in their home states. But for the more than 100 students that are registered on campus, issues that directly affect the College and the campus's relationship with the town can be decided and changed, Schockmel said.

"A person running for mayor is nowhere near as exciting as a person running for president, I understand that," she said. "It's still important and maybe even affects you more directly because it involves making decisions about where you live specifically."

Skidmore's Fight Club and mediation course offer new methods to resolve conflict

Skidmore Organizes Candlelight Vigil for the Homeless: Office of Community Service collaborates with Saratoga organizations for week events