How to increase voter turnout

Slightly more than 300 Mountain View voters cast a ballot in this year’s Anchorage municipal election.

The number — split between the two official North Mountain View precincts — was a slight increase from last year’s April election, according to data from the Municipal Clerk’s Office. In 2014, only around 250 neighborhood voters cast ballots.

The turnout follows a distinct trend. Voter Turnout

Citywide, voter turnout over the past decade has averaged around 27 percent, election statistics show. Meanwhile, North Mountain View’s two polling places have averaged around 10 percent voter turnout over the same time period. Year after year, the neighborhood has fewer voters than almost every other precinct in town.

How would you increase voter participation?

The city of Falun, Sweden, achieved 87 percent voter turnout at its September 2014 election by encouraging active citizenship year-round, according to election commissioner Bruno Kaufmann. That involved opening an educational “democracy center” at the public library, distributing informational material to every citizen and revamping the city’s online services to include new forms of citizen interaction.

In an October 2014 Los Angeles Times editorial, University of California San Diego political science professor Thad Kousser suggests campaigns focus on “unlikely” voters — like ethnic minorities who don’t speak English at home.

Citing research by a team of Yale political scientists, a 2008 Pacific Standard article touted election-day poll parties as a way to increase voter turnout.

“The event wasn’t anything fancy — some free sandwiches, a cotton-candy machine and a professional DJ playing ‘upbeat’ music, all on the lawn of the local middle school that doubled as a polling place,” wrote author Lee Drutman, describing a 2005 New Hampshire poll party. “But it worked. Turnout went up.”

What do you think might work in Mountain View? Leave a comment below.



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  1. We must do a better job in providing citizenship education and civic responsibility. The summer MV Street Fair event draws several thousand people and the recent elementary school cultural event had a big turnout as well. Voter education is a year round process and we found when kids pushed their parents to wear seat belts because they learned that in school, accident fatalities drastically decreased. Food, prizes, incentives are all interesting ideas to increase participation for the upcoming runoff election and the 2016 state and national races. We must commit to doing a better job starting in Mountain View.


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