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Despite 8-fold Increase in Cost, Voter Turnout in City Elections Hasn’t Improved Since 2013

Voters at the 2021 City election at the College Park Community Center (photo credit: the Diamondback]

At next week’s City Council worksession, the Board of Election Supervisors will meet with the Mayor and Council to debrief the 2021 Election Debrief.

Overall, from 2013 to 2021, the cost per ballot has gone up from $4.97 to $39.83, but the voter turnout (% voting) has marginally increased from 9.1% to 10.35%.

Even with the pivot to mailing out ballots to over 13,579 residents, we only had a total of 1,536 residents to vote. The statistics are below:

District 1-Number of Registered Voters-5,133
Number of Persons Voting-595
Percentage of Voting-11.5%

District 2- Number of Registered Voters-2,933
Number of Persons Voting-251
Percentage of Voting-8.5%

District 3-Number of Registered Voters-4,134
Number of Persons Voting-478
Percentage of Voting-11.5%

District 4-Number of Registered Voters-2,638
Number of Persons Voting-212
Percentage of Voting-8.0%

The cost of the Election from 2013-2021:

2013
# of Ballots Cast – 1,568
Total Cost-$7,798
Cost Per Ballot-$4.97

2015
# of Ballots Cast-2,222
Total Cost-$23,575
Cost Per Ballot-%10.61

2017
# of Ballots Cast-2,648
Total Cost-$28,118
Cost Per Ballot-10.61

2019
# of Ballots Cast-2,092
Total Cost-67,171
Cost Per Ballot-$32.11

2021
# of Ballots Cast-1,536
Total Cost-$61.175
Cost Per Ballot-$39.83

The data analysis shows that we are spending more on ballots while the number of voters engaging in the city’s electoral process decreases every election cycle. Councilmember Mitchell and I will recommend conducting a city-wide survey to enlist your thoughts on residents who are not coming out to vote.

Over the years City has taken several steps to increase voter turnout. These include:

  • making voting by absentee / mail-in ballots easier
  • increasing the number of polling stations
  • introducing early voting
  • changing the date of the election to the weekend.

Due to COVID, some of these options couldn’t be implemented in the 2021 election. For example, the City had to hold elections at only one polling station

The City Council will discuss the election-related statistics and ways to increase voter participation.

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