Weekly Buzz | Why Should You Vote in Local Elections?
And also when and where and how!
I missed you yesterday. It was a super busy day, and before I knew it I was headed to bed without having had time to write the Buzz. I promised you election information this weekend, though, and I will not fail you!
First of all, in case you’ve been out of touch for a while, this year’s election is on April 1 from 8-8 at BHS. There are a couple of other ways you can vote, though:
Print and fill out this application for a mail-in ballot and then mail it or return it to the drop box at Town Hall.
Early in-person voting will be held at the Town Clerk’s office from March 15-31 during regular business hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Wednesday: 8:30 AM - 7:00 PM
Friday: 8:30 AM - 1:00 PM
And here are some places you can find out more about your candidates:
School Committee Interviews: Jeremy Brooks | Katherine Bond | Carl Foss
But, like, why?
Why should you vote on April 1? Why should you care about local government?
The biggest argument our Town Clerk hears against voting in local elections is, “I vote in the important elections.” —the implication being that national elections are more important than local ones. But the truth is that they’re both important. National elections have the power to determine the long-term direction and priorities of the country, and we should all be voting in them.
But local elections have the power to affect our lives and our families’ lives on a daily basis. The people we elect make decisions for the long-term vision of the town we live in on a daily basis:
How our town looks
What kinds of businesses are allowed in town, where, and how they’re regulated
What kinds of programs are offered to connect and engage residents
How our town spends its money
How the schools spend their money and what programs are prioritized
The long-term priorities of our town
All this and more is decided on by our town’s elected officials. From funding renovations to our sculpture park to deciding whether or not to further restrict smoke shops and everything in between, the people we elect to represent us are responsible for Burlington being the kind of place we want to live.
Here are some statistics about voter turnout, taken from a study by the National Civic League, linked below.
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.
Our local voter turnout has historically been about 16%. Combine that with the fact that many races are uncontested, and you’ll find a self-perpetuating cycle of potential candidates not thinking the work is important so running isn’t important, or candidates not needing to articulate a platform because they’re uncontested and don’t need to, plus an electorate that doesn’t see the need to vote for those very reasons.
Since the Buzz began a little over a year ago, I’ve been asking readers to break that cycle. We need more people to run, and we need more people to vote. Because this work does affect us. It’s just as important as national elections and more visible on a daily basis. I’ll be sharing more information about voting in coming weeks, but please take the opportunity to learn more about our local government and the candidates running for election so you can participate in this process with us.
This Week in Burlington
Meetings and Events
Monday, March 13
3:00 PM - Shawsheen Curriculum Subcomittee Meeting (Shawsheen Tech)
6:00 PM - Select Board (Town Hall and online)
6:00 PM - Shawsheen Facilities Subcommittee Meeting (Shawsheen Tech)
7:00 PM - Shawsheen School Committee - Budget Committee (Shawsheen Tech)
7:00 PM - Irish Travelogue with Dana Zaiser at the library (Register)
Tuesday, March 14
10:00 AM - Ways and Means Building Subcommittee (Town Hall Annex)
11:00 AM - Free blood pressure screening at the library
11:00 AM - Ways and Means Board of Health Subcommittee (Human Services Building)
4:00 PM - Teen Event - Celebrate Pi Day at the library (Register)
5:00 PM - Ways and Means Safety Subcommittee (Town Hall)
5:30 PM - Board of Health Subcommittee - Supervisory Nurse Interview (Human Services Building)
7:00 PM - Board of Health (Town Hall and online)
7:00 PM - Capital Budget Meeting - Fire Department (Town Hall Annex)
7:00 PM - Land Use - Bylaw Wording Subcommittee (Town Hall)
7:00 PM - School Committee, including Public Hearing Regarding School Schoice (BHS and online)
7:00 PM - An America Divided: Can We Live With One Another? with New Yorker Staff Writer, Emma Green (Zoom talk through the library - Register here)
Wednesday, March 15
9:00 AM - "Burlington Scholarship Program" Grade 12 Parents' Breakfast at BHS
2:45-3:50 - Homework Club by at The Reserve (20 Corporate Drive); email Kim Holt for more information.
4:00 PM - Eversource focus group for proposed project at the library
5:00 PM - Training for Election Workers (Town Hall Annex)
7:00 PM - Capital Budget Meeting (Town Hall Annex)
7:00 PM - Historical Commission (Grand View Farm)
7:00 PM - Ways and Means Committee (Town Hall and online)
Thursday, March 16
4:00 PM - Jacqueline Duren Children's Author at the library (Register)
6:30 PM - Planning Board (Town hall and online)
7:00 PM - Harriet Tubman: Bound for the Promised Land with Author Kate Clifford Larson (library Zoom event)
Friday, March 17
10:30 AM - Toddler Story & Craft at the library (Register)
Saturday, March 18
3:00 PM - Nicci Kadilak - Author Event
There are no sports or activities on my radar for this week, though I do believe Robotics competes this weekend.
That’s it for now. See you tomorrow!