Op-Ed: Voter Rights, Voter Turnout, and a Vote Denied

Please Note: The article below is an opinion expressed by a Rochester Hills resident and in no way constitutes an endorsement by Rochester Media

The Rochester Hills City Council violated its city charter by selling/leasing publicly owned land for oil exploration without a vote of the people. By denying a citizen vote they acted beyond their scope of authority.

The Voter Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of legislation. And while the Rochester Hills situation pales in comparison to the issues we faced in 1965, the fact remains voting is the cornerstone of democracy. It is the fundamental right upon which all of our civil liberties rest. In America there is always the tug of war between the power of Government and the power of the people — and the power of Government has grown significantly for decades.

Voter turnout is fundamental to a healthy democracy. This element is especially important with a local issue, most directly affecting us. Local government should seek ways to engage the citizens. By denying a citizen vote our leaders are not seeking participation. Instead, they are conditioning people to be apathetic. They are encouraging dis-engagement. Behavior like this from elected leadership reinforces, in fact, encourages low voter turnout in local elections. This then leads to apathy; apathy grows into the idea that citizens exist to provide elected officials with official position.

We are at an interesting point in America – small towns across the country are realizing their voices make a difference. Our Founding Fathers’ understood human nature. They observed that there is evil in the world and that evil will lead man to constantly try to take control of others. Thus, as stated in The Declaration of Independence…”That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Call for a vote on oil/gas exploration in Rochester Hills Parks. What do you fear? Why do you fear?

Mike Powers, Rochester Hills

About Sarah Hovis

Freelance wordsmith, arts appreciator, grammar geek, sports spectator, stationery snob, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at sarah@rochestermedia.com.


  1. Mr. Powers, you really boil it down for us. Especially from the Conservative angle. Thank you.

    I also have to believe that our guest – who made a rousing speech last week – Rand Paul, would echo some of Mr. Powers’ feelings. Mr. Paul is indeed a champion of constitutional liberties.

    In a recent Wall Street Journal article Mr. Paul said: “Why don’t we be the party that’s for people voting, for voting rights?” and “I want to be known as a Republican who got more people to vote, not less.”

  2. Bill Parker says

    Helps me understand the importance and value that is placed on the right to vote – and I feel fortunate and patriotic when I read it. I hope the courts uphold the rule of law and the right of people to vote. Appears that a self serving mayor and city council acting on a rogue city attorneys opinion broke the law to take our property values down.

  3. If the City of Rochester Hills is not going to benefit environmentally or economically as taxes will drop because the residents home values will fall like in Shelby, why would our elected officials want to degrade and diminish our city? Why are other city governments like Auburn Hills working with their residents while the Rochester Hills mayor and the city council no longer care about the city charter or the residents wishes. Who will be benefiting from the citizens being denied the right to vote?

  4. Well said! RH City Council completely overstepped their bounds by disrespecting the city charter and denying residents a vote. Mike Webber was one of the City Councilmembers responsible for this. My republican view has changed! Time to focus on the person, not the party. I’m voting for Joanna VanRaaphorst!

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