Connecting voters with the issues they care about most
In 2016, only 60% of eligible voters participated in the presidential election, a number far behind the 80-90% turnout rates seen in countries like Australia, Belgium, and Chile. Voter turnout is even lower in state and local elections. Mayoral elections average a 26% voter turnout, and in many cities, mayors are elected with single-digit turnouts. The low turnout in local elections is especially concerning, as local elections are often the first gateway to creating lost lasting systemic change. Seattle is no stranger to low turnout, with only a 40% of eligible voters participating in the most recent mayoral election and only 50% voting in the 2019 city council election.
Why are local elections so important? According to an article published on local elections in 2017, there are a few key reasons:
Including but not limited to:
While change most certainly occurs at the national level, it typically takes months or even years for federal policies to trickle down to the state or local level. However, the results of local elections can create tangible changes that are almost immediately visible in local communities. Several policies, including marriage equality, civil rights, and environmental policy started at the state or local levels before working their way up to a national scale. In turbulent times like these, voting in local elections and holding elected officials accountable can spur the local government into action, creating ripple effects on a national level.
Since only about 1 in 5 voters participate in local elections, your vote will make even more of a difference. In 2017, King County hit a record low in voter turnout, with only 37% of registered voters participating in the November general election. With such a low turnout, every vote becomes infinitely more important, and a one vote difference could end up determining local officials and referendums.
If local elections are so important, why don’t people vote in them? We’ve narrowed it down to a couple key reasons.
In order to improve voter turnout, we must address both the logistical and connective issues, and make local elections more accessible to everyone.
The Informed Voter Project is a nonpartisan nonprofit that strives to create lasting, systemic changes. We aim to inspire change at the state and local levels by increasing voter turnout and participation in local elections. To spark this change, we plan to address both the logistical and connective barriers to voting, reminding constituents of the power behind their vote.
In order to address both the connective and logistical issues that affect constituents, we have developed a personalized mobile app that notifies voters of upcoming elections, describes the candidates and referendums on the ballot, and explains how issues on the ballot impact specific individuals.