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Supporters of moving Hagerstown city election vindicated

November 15, 2012

Some Hagerstown incumbents, soon to be former incumbents, might beg to differ, but we believe that the city’s move to hold its elections simultaneously with presidential elections has shown itself to be a success.

The council’s elections previously were held independent of other state or national general elections, leading to anemic turnout and a council chosen by a small minority of city residents. In the primary election three years ago, barely one registered voter in 10 made it to the polls.

Further, it was estimated that independent elections came at an additional cost of as much as $125,000.

In a nonbinding referendum in 2009, city residents said they favored holding city and presidential elections at the same time, and the city council — after some hot debate — agreed to make the move official last year.

The chief argument in favor of separate elections was that city issues might get lost amid the swirl of attention given to state and national contests. In the election just held, we know this was not the case, as construction of a multiuse stadium downtown dominated the conversation.

Of course, there won’t always be an issue of such magnitude on the minds of voters, but we still believe this election indicates that the municipal ballot can hold its own against matters of state and national concern.

For all the angst that the matter caused 18 months ago, we believe — in terms of interest, attention and turnout — those who supported matching city elections to presidential elections have been vindicated.

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