Monday, June 24, 2024

EDITORIAL: Motivation name of election game

| March 19, 2023 1:00 AM

About the time flowers are blooming across North Idaho — yes, it really will happen! — Coeur d’Alene School District will likely be asking voters to support another levy.

The May election window immediately precedes the end of the school district’s fiscal year, which means the existing levy — roughly one quarter of the district’s operating budget — will cease to exist. If a revised levy fails, like Tuesday’s did, then district patrons should expect painful cuts across the board.

How do you defeat a multi-million dollar request for taxpayers to support their schools? Well, lying helps. The organized effort to kill the Tuesday ballot measures claimed property taxes on an average home would go up more than $500, when in fact the amount would have increased about $140 over what’s currently taxed.

Misinformation is nothing new, and when it’s coming from local and national sources, it can be a powerful motivator.

Press coverage of election day included comments from a man standing on a cold street corner with a sign urging voters to defeat the school levies. The man admitted that he did not even live within the school district.

Now, that’s motivation.

The man also regurgitated false national talking points about public school agendas, the sort of nonsense that reverberates across some news and social media channels. If you’ve been led to believe that inflicting pain on public schools strikes a blow for the good of mankind, you’re probably going to be motivated to do exactly that.

Saying no is easy. How do you get to “yes?” How do you motivate people to pay their fair share for a healthier, stronger, happier community?

In Coeur d’Alene’s case, enlightening a few more will go a long way; a few hundred more supporters would have made all the difference in an election that had more than 17,000 people voting.

Start with the premise that nothing you do or say will change the minds of people like the man on the corner. It’s no accident that some folks are more susceptible to misinformation than others.

Then ask your most motivated supporters to each find one person who did not vote on Tuesday, provide them with facts and encourage them to vote in favor of the revised levy request in May. Volunteer to help them register or drive them to their polling place, if that helps.

There’s plenty of room for more participation. Even though some will commend Tuesday’s turnout of almost 28% countywide, the fact is that 72,914 registered voters didn’t bother.

Another 38,109 Kootenai County residents are eligible to vote, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates from July 2021, but didn’t register. That means 111,023 eligible county residents did not vote on Tuesday.

Motivate just a handful of them with accurate information and come May, you will turn defeat into victory.