What if Detroit became the Midwest model city for participatory democracy

Detroiters have the power to swing important elections. In November 2016, the presidential election in Michigan was decided by just 10,704 votes, and the question of whether to fund the Regional Transit Authority by just 18,000. Yet less than half of Detroit voters showed up to cast ballots. It’s likely those outcomes would have been different if even half of the abstainers in Detroit had voted.

We are a city of great ambition, yet when it comes to engaging in local democracy through voting, apathy and cynicism prevail. If Detroit was exceptional not for low turnout, but the opposite, we would be the Midwest’s model city for participatory democracy. Our local, state, and regional politics would be different. Our elected leaders would be more accountable, and our needs and desires as citizens would be better understood.

As a candidate for Detroit City Clerk, I have many ideas to get Detroiters informed and excited about voting, from informing voters about when and where they can vote via text messages to training poll workers year-round to ensure that everyone’s voting experience is effortless on election day.

But it all starts with getting folks registered. September is National Voter Registration Month, and Tuesday, September 26, is National Voter Registration Day. I implore you, my fellow Detroiters, to get yourselves listed on the voter rolls. Whether you just turned 18, recently moved to a new residence, or never voted before, it’s critical that you get registered so your voice can be heard on November 7.

Registering to vote is easy and takes just two minutes. You can register online at http://www.michigan.gov/vote.

The deadline to register to vote in the November 7 election is Tuesday, October 10, so get registered today.

Garlin Gilchrist is a candidate for Detroit City Clerk. Learn more at http://www.gilchristforcityclerk.com.