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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Will Ferguson Election Results Inspire Increased Black Turnout Elsewhere?

The headline in Stephen Deere’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, “High voter turnout in Ferguson adds two black council members, for three total,” heralds good news. The lede notes, “For the first time in Ferguson’s 120-year history, the City Council will have three African-American members…”
But the article also notes “Perhaps the most significant aspect of the results for Ferguson City Council was that 30 percent of the city’s 12,738 registered voters cast ballots — more than double the typical turnout.” We are so accustomed to low turnouts in non-presidential elections that 30 percent in this context is good news, even though about two-thirds of those eligible to vote in Ferguson are African Americans.
The article goes on to add that two protest candidates supported by activist groups lost, and thunderstorms may have reduced turnout. Call it a qualified victory for activists, but at least the turnout trend is in the right direction.
After all of the protests, marches and rallies and all of the speeches have been made, it is increasing turnout of African American voters that offers the best hope for ending bias and abuse in law enforcement in Ferguson, North Charleston — and across the U.S. Yesterday’s election in Ferguson is a good start. May it inspire African American communities nationwide to energize their voter registration, education and turnout efforts.
In another important Tuesday election, Mitch Smith reports at The New York Times that Wisconsin voters rejected a conservative candidate in favor of the more liberal incumbent, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley. But they also approved a constitutional amendment that gives the states Supreme Court justices the power to elect the chief Justice, who has been chosen by seniority. This will likely lead to a conservative chief justice replacing the current liberal CJ, Shirley Abrahamson.

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