By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act — which prohibits discrimination in voting — was marked in Philadelphia this past week with a call to boost election day turnout in the city.
Mayor Nutter said his career in public service is due entirely to the progress that began with the 1965 passage of the Voting Rights Act.
But Nutter shook his head that 50 years later, the city often sees low voter turnout on election day:
“It is astounding to me that seemingly increasingly more and more people are choosing not to vote, and then are displeased with decisions that are made by folks who got elected.”
And Nutter took an apparent swipe at one of the people who oversees elections in Philadelphia: City Commissioner Anthony Clark, who reportedly failed to vote over a three-year span.
“I will say it: certainly every elected official should always vote and be an example to everyone else here in the city, in the state, in the country.”
Joining Nutter at the ceremony marking the anniversary was Rosalyn McPherson, President of the Urban League of Philadelphia.
“We should never feel that our one vote does not count.” said McPherson. “It does count, no matter what the outcome. All elections are important, not just presidential. The local and state elections dramatically impact our lives.”
And David Thornburgh, executive director of the election watchdog group “Committee of 70,” said city leaders need to find ways to boost voter turnout.
“It has to change.” said Thornburgh. “It will take imagination, collaboration and the use of every single platform we can find.”
Only one-quarter of registered voters in Philadelphia cast a ballot in last May’s mayoral primary.