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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Tawana Belinda Wilson-Allen, May 11, 2006. Interview U-0098. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Low voter turnout results in fewer city services for the poor

Wilson-Allen points out that lower socioeconomic, and often black, neighborhoods fail to receive city services because of their low voter turnout. As a result, she encourages people to vote in local elections, which could serve as practice for presidential elections.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Tawana Belinda Wilson-Allen, May 11, 2006. Interview U-0098. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

TAWANA BELINDA WILSON-ALLEN:
Exactly. The water and sewer. You do not believe all the different answers that I get to that question. But you've got neighborhoods in Charlotte that don't get the trash pick up that some of the other communities, other neighborhoods get.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
Is that broken down by class or race?
TAWANA BELINDA WILSON-ALLEN:
Class and race. But more how they voted or whether they voted. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Candidates, whether they say it or not, will look to see what precincts that are really coming at them, and they will work on those first. If they're not participating and they're quiet and just going on, existing barely, then they get less services. Yet all of us are paying taxes.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
So these are ongoing things with politics, and that will likely continue to be ongoing.
TAWANA BELINDA WILSON-ALLEN:
Yes. So it's those kinds of things that we try to be able to put in front of people. This is why it's so important to keep it out there, and at the very least vote yourself and take one other person. All politics is local. The closer, you have everybody voting just about or more people voting in a presidential [election] than you have in a local [one]. The more local it is, the less participation. Do you believe in Charlotte in the primary we only had twenty-six percent of the voting population voting? That's worse than it has ever been that I know of. We would rarely go below ten percent in the least likely primary.
ELIZABETH GRITTER:
So are you seeing like a decline in voter participation and education since you began working?
TAWANA BELINDA WILSON-ALLEN:
Yeah, I've seen it go up and down, but I've seen it. I think everybody is waiting around for 2008 and this election. That's another thing. It needs to be an ongoing year round kind of thing because it's too much to chew on in a very short timeframe. People have to, people have to understand what it is and be ready for it. They have to practice it. When you're not familiar with something, you don't do it.