New Research Provides a Roadmap for Boosting Turnout in Local Elections

THE WELL NEWS—September 7, 2023—While national campaigns get the big headlines, local elections often have the most direct impact on the day-to-day lives of Americans.

Yet in New York City, local elections are an afterthought for most voters — so much so that only about one in 10 registered voters showed up to cast their ballots for a critical June primary to select city council candidates.

And these low turnout numbers in June were far from an anomaly. An analysis of voter turnout by the New York City Campaign Finance Board found that from 2008 to 2018, only 3% of registered voters cast their vote in every election in which they were eligible. More than a fifth of registered voters did not turn out to vote in any election in which they were eligible to vote.

But CommVeda Consulting Principal Seema Shah’s analysis of GoVoteNYC’s work over the past two election cycles offers a possible roadmap toward boosting these numbers both in New York and nationally — one that relies on proven strategies, including working closely with trusted local messengers. GoVoteNYC is a collaboration of New York City-based donors committed to strengthening democracy through civic engagement housed at The New York Community Trust.

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