Cheat Sheet Q&A: Turnout in local elections:
Today's entry: Hi Brian, thanks for the information and encouragement to stay engaged in local elections. I'm trying to follow your example by talking to my neighbors about what's going on and for the first time discussing the candidates up for election in the municipal elections this year. There was one number that I thought you gave us about local election turnout but I couldn't remember what it was. I was hoping that you had that information that I might be able to share to encourage others to vote.
Bottom Line: Today will be a real test of political engagement. By media metrics we've actually had an increase in political news and information since November's election (a first by modern political media statistics). The answer to the question is somewhat complicated but averages out to around 12% in municipal only elections. The reason that it's complicated is that it often depends on the municipalities that are actually holding elections. In recent years we've have municipal election voter turnout as low 7% and as high as 27% for municipal only elections (based on the municipality). Overall here's the average turnout in Palm Beach County over the past decade:
- Municipal: 12%
- Primaries: 20%
- Mid-terms: 50%
- Presidential: 74%
So we typically have a 62% variance in turnout of registered voters between a general Presidential election and municipal only elections! This illustrates why it's so important to inform yourself and vote. It's possible to win elections with only about 6% of registered voters supporting you. Many local politicians know this and do very well identifying the margin they need to win elections and use that strategy to make decisions that impact 100% of registered voters. I'm hopeful that we'll have improved turnout for the reasons cited above but also because a message needs to be sent to other local officials that residents of Palm Beach County are ready to mind the store and hold local politicians accountable to more than six out of every 100 registered voters in the County.
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