As Baltimore gears up for another citywide election, Barbara E. Jackson ponders voter apathy.
Jackson, administrator of the city Board of Elections Supervisors, has watched the number of registered voters dwindle over the last few years. She's even had fewer requests from organizations who need her staff's expertise in running voter-registration drives.
"It's demoralizing," Jackson said.
In June 1987 -- three months before the last citywide election -- there were 386,627 registered voters.
As of this month, the figure had dropped to 321,309 -- a decline of 65,318 voters.
Much of the decline is attributed to a January 1990 purge, when 57,837 voters were purged from voter registration rolls because they had failed to vote in five years, Jackson said.
Jackson said voter registration increased before the 1984 election. But many of the registrants were purged last year because they failed to vote in 1984 and in subsequent elections. This year, 2,560 names were purged.
Statistics gathered by Jackson's office show that fewer than half the people eligible to vote in Baltimore are even registered. And fewer than half those registered actually vote.
While 386,627 Baltimoreans were registered to vote in 1987, only 165,136 of them actually cast ballots in the September 1987 primary.
"And that was a highly contested election, so it was a large turnout compared to some," said Jackson, referring to the mayoral election won by Kurt Schmoke in a relatively close race with incumbent Clarence H. Du Burns.