To the Editor:

We in D.C.’s Ward 2 have a shameful record about turnout at midterm elections. In the Nov. 4 election, only 30.5 percent of our registered voters showed up at the polls, lower than the city-wide average of 32.5 percent. That was a sharp drop-off from the 61.1 percent of Ward 2 voters who turned out in 2012 for the presidential election.

We need to put on our thinking caps about how to get more people to the polls. Particularly concerning is the situation regarding Georgetown University students. In ANC2E04, a single-member district with a population of about 2,000 people essentially all of whom are students (it covers New South, Village C, and Alumni Square), only 32 people voted last Tuesday. That was bad, but worse was ANC2E08, another all-student district (covering Harbin, Village C, and Copley), where 10 people voted — and only two of them voted for their ANC rep. That is embarrassing. Mind you, this was is in an election where marijuana legalization was on the ballot; one would think some students would be interested in that matter. Not that the 2012 election was much better: then, 10 people voted for ANC reps in ANC2E04, though, thanks to a determined candidate, 259 did so in ANC2E08.

The Georgetown ANC provides an important community voice about what can and cannot be built in our community. When the ANC single-member district lines were redrawn after the 2010 census, student voices loudly demanded that there be at least two ANC districts that were overwhelmingly students, and that was done. Yet now, exactly 2 voters determined who will be one of the eight voices speaking for our community.

Two factors may account for this abysmal turnout. First, for all the talk by celebrities about the importance of voting, some students may not have gotten the message. That would be sad news and should lead us to redouble our efforts to persuade them to participate in our democracy. Second, students do not feel attached to the Georgetown community and so they register elsewhere (as a committed D.C. Republican, I reject any excuse that people want to vote only in hotly contested jurisdictions). If so, we need to do more to make them feel part of the community, and we should point out the risk that the student voice may not be heard if they do not vote.

Patrick Clawson

Georgetown resident

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