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Updated: May 25, 2023

February 9, 2022:

In response to the low voter turnout that cities and towns across Massachusetts experienced throughout the 2021 election cycle, we aimed to understand why turnout was so low, and what could be done about it. To address this, and more, the report is broken into four sections.

  1. Section One analyzes the significance of local elections, detailing how municipal governments hold immense power over issues that impact residents’ daily lives, such as education and housing.

  2. Section Two digs into the history of local election turnout, revealing that local election turnout rates across Massachusetts were dramatically higher throughout the 20th century than compared to now.

  3. Section Three discusses why local election turnout has fallen so dramatically, arguing that the decline in local media outlets that connect residents to their community in a substantive, meaningful way is primarily to blame.

  4. Section Four suggests that, to most effectively boost local election turnout, all Massachusetts municipalities move local elections to even-numbered years.

We researched, wrote, and published this report because these continually low, tragic voter turnout rates in local elections are unacceptable. From Boston to Brockton, Fall River to Framingham, a mere third of voters (or less) decided who would lead their communities, making critical decisions on subjects like education and housing. We cannot and should not accept this as the status quo.

Consequently, we are urging all applicable Massachusetts communities to shift to holding municipal elections on even-numbered years. Doing so will reinvigorate care and investment in local elections, and ultimately, our own communities.

We are sharing this report with state and local elected officials from across Massachusetts. Now, we are proud to share it with you. Read it now by clicking here.

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