Craig Hamilton, Greenwood’s newest City Councilman, is working on a project that he has been dreaming about for over a decade. Hamilton is in the process of creating an Internet polling site for the constituents of Ward 1 in Greenwood. "This has been a dream ever since the 2000 election when we had all that controversy about Gore and Bush. We had the Supreme Court making the decision when it should have been the people, or at least Florida," Hamilton explained.
This polling site would be used to discover the opinions of the Ward 1 voters on key issues affecting Greenwood, allowing the City Council members representing that Ward to get an actual feel for what the citizens want. This site would only be used for important or controversial topics. "I don’t want it to become routine, to lose its importance," Hamilton said as he described his vision. "If we ask the voters to voice their opinion on every single thing that the Council votes on, I think there will be a dramatic loss of interest."
Current data shows that 18 to 24 year-olds have the lowest turnout when voting, but their participation may be the highest with Internet polling. Conversely, seniors have a higher voting turnout, but are expected to have a lower participation level with an online polling site.
The first step is Hamilton’s project is forming a committee to study various issues affecting the implementation of the polling site. A committee consisting of six individuals has been formed. This group consists of Craig Hamilton, Deanna Rice, Paula Ward, Cary Clay, Charlotte Douglas and Michael Stromley. Rice is the Executive Director of the Sebastian Retired Citizens Association. Hamilton hopes she can help find ways to increase the participation of seniors in the polling program.
Other issues and questions to be addressed by this new committee include cost, security, communication and timing as well as polling question formats and annual updates.
Mayor Del Gabbard is excited about the opportunities this polling site would provide to the people. "It would create an entirely new level of accountability. If a Councilman votes one way and a poll shows a completely different view from the district, the people would know about it," Gabbard said. "I would love to see this program get set up for all of the Wards."