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Despite a tumultuous political year in Granite Shoals, turnout for the May 6 city election was extremely low compared to the number of registered voters in the city, a trend consistent with low turnouts for local races across the country. 

Of the 5,222 people reported to be living in Granite Shoals by the U.S. Census Bureau, 2,727 are registered to vote. Only 421 — 15.43 percent of potential voters — showed up to choose the new mayor in an open seat. In the city’s only contested race for councilor, which included an incumbent vying for re-election, 389 total voters, or 14.59 percent, cast ballots. 

“Traditionally, we’ve had low turnouts for city and school elections,” Burnet County Elections Administrator Doug Ferguson told “It’s sad, but it is what it is.”

Countywide, this year’s local elections had the most contested races than any in recent years, said Ferguson, who has been administering elections in Burnet County since 2015. Nine out of 10 entities in the county held elections on May 6, almost double the average number of participants. Many times, local elections are canceled because of a lack of challengers.

Granite Shoals had the potential for a major upheaval, with five of the seven City Council positions up for grabs, but three of those races went uncontested. 

The two contested races were mayor and Place 1 councilor.

In the mayoral race, Kiel Arnone defeated Jim Davant, 221 votes to 200. 

In Place 1, incumbent Councilor Ron Munos won re-election against Roman Archer, 224 to 174. 

Low voter turnout is not an anomaly in Granite Shoals. May 2022 election ballots were cast by 476 voters in the mayor race, 477 in place 4, and 474 in place 6. The May 2021 elections were canceled because no race was contested. 

In 2020, the pandemic forced the cancellation of spring elections, moving all local contests to November during a presidential year, when voters turn out in force. A total of 1,271 votes were cast in the Granite Shoals Place 6 seat contest.

In May 2018, only 351 people in Granite Shoals voted for the contested races in places 2 and 3.

Ferguson pointed to 2015 as an example of how bad things can get in odd-election years. The Granite Shoals mayoral race had a total of 163 votes cast, just 7.85 percent of the 2,127 registered voters at the time. 

In the year since the May 2022 elections, Granite Shoals has had several contentious issues and challenges that could have been reason enough to go to the polls on May 6. The council fired its city manager in June 2022; a mayor and a city councilor resigned; the council censured a sitting councilor, who was also facing a felony criminal mischief charge; a contentious city manager search process went off the rails; the state began investigating unlicensed plumbing inspections in the city; and investigations were made into complaints against another mayor.

Low voter turnout at local elections is a national problem. An average of 15 percent of voters participate in local elections across America’s 30 largest cities, according to an ongoing study from Portland State University.

In Texas, study findings show Dallas’ turnout at 6.14 percent, Fort Worth at 6.48 percent, San Antonio at 10.69 percent, El Paso at 11.56 percent, and Austin at 13.29 percent. In comparison, Portland, Oregon, which votes by mail, has a 59.43 percent turnout rate; Louisville, Kentucky, 45.43 percent; and Seattle, 44.49 percent.

2 thoughts on “Low voter turnout in Granite Shoals mirrors national trend

  1. Whilst our numbers are low here locally to vote we doubled DFW which shows at least something positive with more people are willing to be involved and care maybe. Austin numbers from the article is what is to be said there, but a lot of us know what goes on there unfortunately. Being involved to keep our way of life is very important as when you lose it it’s harder to retrieve as we see as on the national scale. God bless Texas and we patriot’s America!

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