Why is Voter Turnout So Low?

Well, the school district elections certainly happened yesterday in New York State, but in Westchester County, voter turnout continued to be low, much as it has in past years.

(Some) Voters Turn Out to Override Tax Caps

A tax cap override, usually a guarantee for higher voter turnout, did bring additional Edgemont school district voters to the polls, but not to the degree we would have expected. However, we did see a significant spike in voters for the Rye school district. 3,452 Rye voters arrived at the polls this year. In comparison, 1,800 voters showed up in last year’s election. And if you’re curious, yes, both Edgemont and Rye achieved a supermajority of voters and successfully overrode the tax cap.

Potential Voters Aren’t Enticed by Contested School Board Seats

Contested school board seats did not necessarily bring more voters into the election booths. What we did see repeatedly, however, was that the small voter turnout across several school districts created situations where candidates, even incumbent candidates, lost their races by incredibly small margins. In some cases, the difference came down to three or four votes.

Why Do Voters Turn out?

So the question remains, how do we get voters to the polls? Anecdotally, there were staff members at WCA who complained that there was a lack of online information about school board candidates for their particular districts. We are concerned about this implication: a lack of available information may have discouraged people from voting. People do want to participate in the voting process, but they do not want to vote blindly.

Do you have any suggestions? Share in the comments below.

Download the PDF version of the 2015 Voter Participation Map.

Voter Participation by School District Map


Data from The Journal News/LoHud Election Central.