School District administrators most likely breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday morning as election results rolled in; all school districts in Westchester County successfully passed their proposed school district budgets for the 2014-15 school year.
However, voter participation rates* throughout Westchester indicate that there is still much work to be done in the community to encourage people to make it to the polls. It’s important to note that unlike last year, when four school districts had voter participation rates of 20% or above, this year only two school districts could claim that accomplishment – Briarcliff Manor and Blind Brook-Rye. These two districts also had contested school board elections that were somewhat close – about one hundred votes separated the winner from the loser in both races.
That said, we shouldn’t assume that contested trustee races guarantee higher voter participation rates. Indeed, some of the districts with the lowest participation rates were districts that had contested races.
So what can we do as a county and as a community to improve voter participation rates? Do you think it even matters? We invite you to share your thoughts in the comments below.
*we calculated the rates by dividing the number of voters by the total population over age 18, as estimated by the American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates 2008-12.