A new analysis of the Nov ’09 and Jan ’10 elections by The Springfield Institute provides the evidence for what many already suspected: Large portions of minority residents of Springfield are not voting at all. Voting rates for the whole city are pretty mediocre–but in White wards the rates are double, and in high minority wards the rate is half. (See ward map below.)
In Nov. 2009, Springfield made a historic shift back to ward representation and had a mayoral race. Ward representation was reinstated as a strategy to increase voter participation and minority representation. City council did become more representative in terms of race and ethnicity, but voter turnout descended to a record low (as compared to 2007).
In January 2010, a high profile special election to fill Edward Kennedy’s seat–Martha Coakley v. Scott Brown–elicited a better turnout in the city overall, but the participation rates in minority and low income wards were almost unchanged.
It’s time to be creative and bold about democratic participation, and civic engagement generally. Ideas?
Filed under: Local democracy & civic engagement |