Voter Turnout…

… needs to be higher than this if we’re to have a good city! Thanks to Charles Langley for providing the numbers.

First District:
11,669 voters on Election Day
Total Residents: 42,164
Percentage of Residents who Voted: 27.7%

Second District:

9,696 voters on Election Day
Total Residents: 41,109
Percentage of Residents who Voted: 23.6%

Third District:
8,812 voters on Election Day
Total Residents: 42,888
Percentage of Residents who Voted: 20.5%

*Fourth District:
10,794 voters on Election Day
Total Residents: 41,593
Percentage of Residents who Voted: 26.0%

Fifth District:
6,225 voters on Election Day
Total Population: 41,749
Percentage of Residents who Voted: 14.9%

Sixth District:
4,646 voters on Election Day
Total Population: 42,114
Percentage of Residents who Voted: 11.0%

Average Percentage of District Residents Voting: 20.6%

* Denotes first city election for Aboite residents.

Rachel commented over on Charles’ post that this doesn’t reflect non-citizens and those under 18. True, and those numbers would be nice to see, also (I think the newspapers ran them). But still, this comparison is not without value: an overwhelmingly small percentage of the total population is calling the shots. Sure, the outcome might have been the same had more people voted. But that doesn’t change the fact that 8 out of 10 people you pass on the street (or in your car) on a daily basis didn’t exercise the right many around the world still die to gain. Amazingly disappointing.

A maddening map of the precincts

countygis.jpgHas anyone ever successfully used the Allen County GIS system to determine his own precinct or polling place?

I appreciate the effort that went into gathering all the information and pulling it into one system. But the county system is a classic example of enterprise software being written for programmers rather than for end users.

If you’re like me, you just jump into a site like the county’s, thinking that you’ll figure it out as you go along. But see all those folders down the sidebar in the picture? Some things in there are already selected, which is why you see so many colored lines in your map.

Good luck finding all the checkboxes that go with the renegade lines.

Next, you may try the instructions for finding your election information. This actually works, as far as it goes, although it does take nine steps.

But the big problem is that you get the address of your polling place, but all of the polls remain marked on the map. So, if you’re like me, and you’re unfamiliar with many Fort Wayne streets and buildings, you could end up at a closer, but incorrect, polling place.


My polling place is not the VFW, a polling place actually located inside my precinct. The VFW is a polling place for a different precinct. My polling place is located two precincts to the north at the Eagles Club — meaning that if you don’t have a car, you have to either get a ride or take public transportation.

Why so far away? I believe it’s because of Americans with Disabilities Act concerns, which are valid as long as everyone has equal access to transportation — and that’s an unlikely prospect in my neighborhood.

A good city features polling places that are easy to find and, at least in the urban core, easy to get to by foot. Let’s hope better polling places — and maps — arrive before the next election.

How not to fix your city

Richard Florida of “creative class” fame links to The Where Blog, where Brendan Crain looks at five common mistakes made by businesses looking to be innovators. Crain then turns around and applies these myths to how we go about fixing cities.

Below are the five “innovation myths” with an excerpt of Crain’s comments, applying them to cities. All of these are related to the myth of the silver bullet — one shining project that will rescue the business, or city:

• Over-reliance on high-profile, “sexy” projects

Big projects can be important to cities, but it’s even more important to pay close attention to what trade-offs will need to be made in terms of basic services (transit ain’t the only thing hurtin’ in Chicago) in order to pull off a good piece of stunt urbanism. Millennium Park is an innovative piece of landscape architecture, but as an urban regenerator it’s as archaic as they come.

• Unhealthy fascination with unique, charismatic civic leaders

… (I)t is important to remember that the best and most innovative mayors from the past … were willing to take risks; that is to say that great mayors have often made names for themselves by bucking trends and trying new ideas that were responsive to their specific cities than following standard procedures being cut-and-pasted into other cities.

• Misapplication of other cities’ approaches

… (I)t is often assumed that because Idea X worked in City Y, it will be equally successful in City Z. This is absurd. … The misapplication of this lesson would be for a flat city to assume that building a cable car would be a good idea since it worked in Medellín (pictured).

• Descent into a cycle of self-recrimination

Untold energy is put into trying to make the city cooler and more attractive to young people. Meanwhile, (Pittsburgh’s) draconian tax system that discourages start-ups … go unchanged because Pittsburgh fails to realize that music festivals and extensive bike paths aren’t going to save them.

• Resignation to superficial changes

Cities have a long and storied history of believing in the power of cosmetic changes only to be let down by the results. A phenomenon that you might call Trinket Urbanism had a death grip on North American cities until relatively recently as every city rushed to have their version of one-off amenities built in other cities.

Most Harrison Square supporters seem to already realize that even if successful, Harrison Square is no “silver bullet.” That’s good, and I really hope for its success.

But the way to retain young business people can be as simple as making it easy to start a small business.

Photo by (sean) on Flickr