A quick look at primary night in Methuen. Turnout was 12.75%. Lets look at some of the key races:
Democratic Governors Council
Republican Fifth Congressional:
Shapiro 22.10 %
Republican State Senator:
Republican Rep 18th Essex:
Lyons Jr. 85.63%
Mayor, do you agree that it’s time for us to look at the money we spend on elections? It just seems like we continue to do it “the way we always have” and yet fewer and fewer people vote. Perhaps if we looked at ways to innovate, online voting, for example, we’d not only spend less money, we might actually get more people to vote.
In your opinion, whose job is it to “get people to the polls?” The people who are running or those of us whose job it is to administer the elections?
I think it really is past time to look at different methods for conducting elections. The technology is there to make it easier for people to vote. But as you know change comes hard, and sometimes people would rather stick with a failing model to avoid that change. As far as whose job it is to bring folks out my opinion is that job belongs to the candidates. Lack of voter enthusiasm is a big part of our problem. It is our job to make sure that voting is as easy as it can be for the people who choose to vote, under current law. What do the clerks think of online voting? Is there any professional consensus on ways to stimulate voter interest?
Another option is to have the primaries and even look to Election Day on Saturdays. This may give more opportunities to vote.
I agree totally that the most effective “get out the vote” catalyst is for the candidates to generate the interest in their campaigns. Note the turnout in the January 2010 special election; Scott Brown was a compelling candidate who ran an exceptional campaign, and the electorate responded. Remember, this was during the coldest month of the year the day after a holiday and a snowstorm, and turnout was over 50%.
As for the clerks, I can’t say I have heard a lot of discussion about online voting, but if I had to guess I would think that community would be more than willing to think about and consider anything. They are a wealth of knowledge and the bridge from “the way it has always been” to “how to make it better.”
However, their, and my, biggest frustration, is that the legislative initiatives out there that relate to voting, for example election day registration, are always undertaken without input from the clerks, the community that best knows the process. They have finally brought us into the fold on that particular issue, but it is a major concern that they could even have thought it was a good idea to not discuss it with us first.
I think we would all be concerned if even more revolutionary measures, such as online voting, were contemplated without extensive consultation with the community of clerks.
But it is fascinating to contemplate, and I think we can do it a lot better and a lot cheaper, if the will is there to change it.