Two former Rockville mayors are hoping to get more people to vote in the city’s upcoming election by drumming up support for changing the tone and structure of the city's governing body—the size of the council, the terms of elected officials and the timing of city elections.
“Our goal is to increase citizen participation in government in every which way. A lot of these proposals do that,” said Steven VanGrack, a former Rockville mayor and chairman of a charter review commission convened last spring.
VanGrack and Susan Hoffman—also a former mayor and member of the 12-member charter review commission—have been trying to raise awareness about the commission’s recommendations and have even submitted a position paper to Patch (see PDF attached to this story). The commission recommends:
- That mayor and Council terms be extended from two years to four.
- That the city election cycle be changed to sync with presidential elections.
- That the City Council be expanded from four members to six.
City elections are Nov. 5.
Concerns Over Low Voter Turnout
The charter commission’s recommendations will appear on the ballot this fall, as a way for the city to gauge public interest. But VanGrack said he’s concerned people won’t make it to the polls since, historically, voter turnout is low during municipal elections.
In Rockville, more than half of they city’s population is registered to vote, but city records show only 6,240 of Rockville’s 36,840 registered voters participated in the 2011 municipal elections—that’s just under 17 percent of the city’s electorate.
On Saturday, Rockville’s Human
Rights Commission plans to host a one-day mobile voter registration drive.
Between 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m., a decorated city van will travel to six Rockville
Another voter registration drive will be held Sept. 18 at Montgomery College’s Rockville campus.
>>>Speak out: What do you think it would take to get more voters to the polls? How do you feel about the Charter Commissions Recommendations?