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Weekend Buzz | If People Wanted Their Voices to Be Heard, They'd Vote
Good morning! We made it to the weekend! Horray!
I’m going to hand it over to past-Nicci today, because Election Day is a short 14 days away (and Absentee Voting is happening right now), and we really need to keep addressing this big pink elephant that lives in the gazebo on the Town Common: Why are we not seeing higher voter turnout? There are over 17,000 registered voters in Burlington, but fewer than 3,000 of them turn out to vote. each year.
Before I let old-me take the reins, a few announcements/reminders:
There’s a Vigil for Peace and Healing on the 29th in the High School Auditorium. It begins at 7:00 PM, and there will be a collection of goods to send to Ukraine.
At that exact same time, there will be a community forum about the Mall Road/Middlesex Turnpike development area.
If you’re a Town Meeting candidate in Precinct 6 (our only contested race for Town Meeting), please reach out to me so we can chat regarding your thoughts and priorities for your candidacy. I promise it’s painless. You can just ask the candidates who I’ve already talked to! (But I don’t want to out anyone, so I won’t be sharing names. 😉)
If you think I work better with caffeine (trust me, I do), click the coffee cup and treat me. ☕
We’re on all the social media platforms at this point, other than *gulp* TikTok. I’ve got no plans to venture into that no-man’s land, but you’re welcome to follow the Buzz on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook if you don’t already.
Also, share me! We have hundreds 😲 of subscribers, and even more people read the Buzz each day who aren’t subscribers. But the best way to be sure you and your loved (or liked) ones don’t miss anything is to be sure you’re all subscribed. Yes, even your college-aged daughter. And your great-grandmother. And your kid’s third-grade teacher. And your lawyer, and your real-estate agent, and the owner of that great restaurant where you had lunch. If they’re in Burlington, the Buzz is a great resource. (Or so I must believe.)
Okay, enough from today-me. Catch you at the bottom.
People don’t vote in local elections because they don’t care about local politics. Right?
Well, okay, there might be a little truth to that statement, but it doesn’t end with a period.
Many people don’t know:
why they should care about local government
when elections are happening
anything at all about the candidates running
how to register
that they need to register prior to the election.
Many people believe their vote doesn’t matter.
Here are some facts about voter turnout, taken from a study by the National Civic League:
Residents aged 65+ are 7 times more likely to vote in local elections than those aged 18-34.
Affluent voters have a 30-50% higher turnout than low-income voters.
White residents vote at a 20% higher rate than nonwhite voters (though I can’t tell from the writeup whether that is adjusted for the demographic distribution of the towns studied.
This is a self-perpetuating cycle. When voters see a government made up of people who don’t look like them, who don’t share much of the same background and experiences, they are less likely to get involved.
In addition, if an election is uncontested, honestly why bother voting?
That’s why we need more candidates, and candidates representing different backgrounds. And that is why we need more voters - voters of all ages, income levels, and backgrounds - to come out and vote in local elections.
For the April 9 election, the candidate pool is set. So, now it’s all about informing ourselves and getting out there and voting.
Taking a look at those five bullet points above, we’ve got at least 2 of them in the bag. The number of registered voters suggests that most of our citizens are at least registering before the election. And then, if you’re paying attention at all to the Buzz, or to the other outlets, you know that the election is on ….what? *shouts from the back* April 9th! Yes, good. You’re paying attention. You’ll also likely see signs popping up reminding you of this date. (If you want one of these apolitical, vote local signs, please let me know!) And, you’ve got a wealth of resources regarding the candidates. The Burlington Equity Coalition Candidate Guide, the Buzz’s Election Resource Center, and the BCAT Election Center are amazing places to learn about the candidates.
So the two questions remaining are:
Why should I care?
How can I help?
I truly hope I’ve been able to convince you by now why you should care about who is at the helm in local government. In just the last two months that I’ve been covering the town, we’ve had discussions about:
Groundwater, storm water, and flooding
Dedicated outdoor seating at local restaurants
Increasing biotech businesses (and regulating them, and collecting their tax 💰, which is one thing keeping our property taxes reasonably low)
Increasing equity and inclusion for our diverse population
There’s a ton more, but just looking at those quick bullets: Maybe you don’t own your home. Maybe your basement isn’t getting flooded (though those things are true for many of you). But do you drive or ride in Burlington? Do you go to restaurants? Do you go literally anywhere in the town? These are topics that matter to you. And you get to choose the people who make those decisions. Local elections are our opportunity to shape our town, and I truly believe we should all take advantage of this opportunity.
Now, how can you help? First off, the Town Clerk’s office does a great job of accommodating any access needs. They will mail you an Absentee Ballot, or you can come down to the office to fill one in. If you need assistive technology, that is also available.
Other things we can all do:
Raising awareness about Election Day!
If you’re a homeowner, you can put out a lawn sign advertising the election date. (Email me if you want one!) If you're a business owner, you can post a flyer calling attention to the date of the election (APRIL 9, 2022!). If you have friends in town, you can remind them. You can make a Facebook post or a banner or a profile picture calling attention to Election Day.
Raising awareness about candidates!
We covered this above. Go to all the guides, and visit the websites and social media pages of all the candidates!
Call or text with reminders.
Candidates for office often have letter-writing campaigns in which you can participate. But if you don't want to tie your voter encouragement to a specific candidate, a quick call or text to remind your friends and loved ones that election day is coming up (and maybe a quick note when you're finished voting to remind them the polls are open and they should get out there!) could make all the difference. Voter turnout is much higher when friends remind friends to vote! This normalizes voting and getting involved with the laws and financial concerns that affect your life!
Make it a family affair!
Speaking of normalizing voting and civic involvement, you can increase future voter turnout by bringing your own kid with you and showing them how the process works. Read candidate guides together. Help them decide what issues impact them the most. And then, when they're 18, help them get registered and go to the polls together.
Help a friend out!
Do you know someone who could use some help so they can get out to vote? Give them a ride. Team up and watch each other's kids. Help with dinner - anything that can help someone who wouldn't normally be able to get out to the polls.
Be a poll worker!
You can reach out to our Town Clerk's office to find out more information about this.
Alright, that’s all for now. But I’m not going anywhere. Phone a friend. Tell them about the Buzz, tell them about the election, and then make a plan.
See you tomorrow,