Political Games Spawn City Apathy

July 16, 1991

State Sen. George W. Della's decision yesterday to drop out of the City Council president's race was no big surprise to those who thought the South Baltimore politician was playing games by becoming a last-minute candidate July 5. But to thousands of Democratic voters in Baltimore City, his pullout is a major disappointment. With Mary Pat Clarke, the incumbent, now facing only token primary opposition, her record and behavior as the city's No. 2 official will not get the kind of full probing it deserves.

Selfish and irresponsible behavior from elected officials like Mr. Della explains why voters are so cynical about politicians and why they have become so apathetic about the election process. It is ironic that we are witnessing this kind of demoralization here even as millions in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe are striving for democratic reforms and pluralistic politics, holding countries like the United States as models.

In Baltimore, 386,627 citizens had registered to vote in June, 1987, three months before the last citywide election. This year 68,023 fewer had registered in June. Much of the decline is attributed to a purge last year in which 57,837 voters were removed from the rolls for having failed to go to the polls in five years.

With 276,295 registered Democrats, Baltimore is an overwhelmingly one-party city, a fact that means the Democratic Party's primary winners are virtually assured of election in the November voting. Only 29,967 citizens had registered as Republicans as of last month, 12,087 independents, 99 Libertarians, 7 Alliance members, 4 adherents of the American Party and one each of Socialists and U.S. Labor Party. A total of 143 registered voters indicated their preference as "other."

We urge all Baltimore City residents who have not registered to do so by the Aug. 12 deadline. We urge all organizations that can do so to launch voter registration drives. Voting is a civic privilege and duty that should be exercised by all. In many of this year's contested city primary elections, every vote counts.

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