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5 Ways Governments Can Encourage Increased Voter Turnout For Local Elections 

By Anna Figliola

Increased voter turnout is vital to local elections as it directly correlates with the health and vibrancy of democratic governance at the local level. Local elections determine the leadership and policies that directly impact residents' daily lives, from education and public safety to infrastructure and zoning regulations. When voter turnout is low, there is a risk of decisions being made by a small and potentially unrepresentative portion of the population. This can lead to policies that do not reflect the diverse needs and perspectives of the community. 

Higher voter turnout fosters a more engaged and informed pool of elected officials, promoting a sense of civic responsibility and accountability among elected officials. It ensures that the voices of a broader cross-section of the community are heard, contributing to a more inclusive and responsive local government

Government officials often face several challenges when attempting to increase voter turnout for local elections including low public awareness, voter apathy, and voter registration barriers. Local elections allow community-members’ voices to be heard on issues that affect their daily lives and convey concerns to their local officials for a more representative legislation. 

Read on to learn how increased voter turnout in local elections strengthens the foundation of democracy, ensuring that the decisions made at the legislative level truly reflect the interests of constituents. 

Why Is Voter Turnout Important? 

Voter turnout is a crucial part of any successful local election as it determines which voices are heard and the urgency of the population’s concerns. A higher voter turnout promotes a more representative democracy in which the government reflects the varied perspectives and needs of the people. Increased voter turnout enhances the legitimacy of election results, directly contributing to the overall health and trust in democratic institutions. 

When citizens actively participate in local elections, the democratic process is strengthened and the principle of governance by the people is reinforced to maintain confidence and public support of local government. 

Understanding The Benefits of E-democracy and E-voting 

The utilization of newer technology can significantly assist local governments in boosting voter turnout by addressing various challenges of traditional and outdated voting methods. Features including online voter registration, mobile voting information applications, text and email reminders, and electronic voting systems help officials connect with a broader audience by engaging citizens and enhancing accessibility and efficiency of the electoral process. 

Unfortunately, new technology is often overlooked in local governments for a number of reasons including a resistance to change and suspicion toward the reliability of technology. Despite the many benefits of implementing new technology, local government institutions may be reluctant to embrace newer, technology-driven systems because traditional processes may be deeply ingrained. The integration of new technology may also raise concerns about data security and privacy when officials do not have clear assurances about safeguarding sensitive information. 

Read more about The Benefits Of Digital Transformation For Local Governments

Common Roadblocks Local Voters Face

  • Voter Registration Obstacles 

Some individuals may find it challenging to navigate complex registration requirements, including strict ID requirements and limited access to registration sites. Physical registration forms can easily be lost or damaged, while some voters may get overwhelmed by the presentation of information. These barriers can disproportionately affect certain demographics, hindering their ability to participate in elections and furthering a disinterest in voting. 

Learn more about how to Bring Better Governance To Underserved Community Members here. 

  • Accessibility Issues

Inadequate voter accessibility can eliminate the turnout of populations within the community and consequently skew the needs of the entire community. Physical barriers including accessibility for people with disabilities, long waiting times, and long distances to polling places contribute to accessibility roadblocks for voters of marginalized communities, affecting their ability to engage in the electoral process at the local level. 

Local elected officials can utilize municipal software solutions to implement accessible programs and increase overall voter turnout. 

  • Disinformation and Misinformation

When false or misleading information regarding a local election is spread amongst a community, voter turnout is directly impacted. Disinformation regarding an election can include inaccurate information about candidates, voting procedures, and polling locations, eroding trust in the democratic system and discouraging participation. Targeted disinformation campaigns may aim to suppress voter turnout by sowing doubt or disseminating misleading information, affecting the overall integrity of local elections. 

Learn everything you need to know about Building Trust in Local Government and Keeping Your Constituents Happy in our guide.

  • Lack of Political Awareness

A lack of political awareness can be a significant obstacle for voters in local elections. When voters are unaware of local candidates, issues, or the importance of participation in the electoral process, they may avoid voting altogether or make uninformed decisions at the polls. Increasing civic education and implementing awareness campaigns helps empower voters to make choices that align with their community’s needs. 

Consider hosting a Local Public Meeting to get voters informed about upcoming elections. 

  • Time Constraints 

Constituents often have busy work schedules or multiple responsibilities that serve as a barrier for voting in local elections. Limited time may make it challenging for individuals to research candidates, understand local issues, and find a convenient window of time to cast their vote. Implementing measures such as early voting, mail-in ballots, extended polling hours, and electronic voting systems can help mitigate this obstacle and engage a broad range of voters that would otherwise be non-participatory in the election. 

Learn what you need to know about Government Scheduling Software here. 

  • Language Barriers 

For individuals whose primary language is not the official language of the region, language barriers can present challenges in understanding ballot materials and voting procedures. Limited access to translated materials or interpreters hinders comprehension of candidate information, leading to the exclusion of communities in the electoral process. Language barriers in local elections can be addressed by providing multilingual election materials, language assistance services, and adequate support to diverse linguistic communities. 

5 Key Ways to Improve Local Voter Turn-Out

1. Educate Citizens 

Providing civic education is crucial to improving local voter turnout. Informational campaigns can be used to educate individuals on their options in the election by emphasizing the direct impact of elections on local communities.

Local government institutions can convey the significance of voter turnout by showcasing specific local issues that are directly influenced by elected officials. Educated citizens are more likely to feel a sense of community empowerment and resonate with their civic duty to uphold a healthy democracy by voting in local elections. 

2. Ensure Polling Stations Are Accessible

Polling stations need to be accessible to all populations in the community in order to improve local voter turnout. Accessibility of local elections includes an equal disbursement of polling stations that offer accommodations to citizens with a disability. 

Officials should consider parking lots, sidewalks and ramps, crowding, and small door openings to ensure people with disabilities have a full and equal opportunity to vote in local elections. With government software programs like GovPilot’s Report-a-Concern feature, residents can easily submit concerns through an online form or mobile app. 

Check out GovPilot’s Guide On Upward Mobility and how to improve opportunities for all citizens. 

3. Encourage Young Voters

The importance of voting is often overlooked by the youth within communities, so it is crucial to encourage young voters in local elections by using strategies tailored to their preferences and concerns.

Local government officials can collaborate with educational institutions to integrate civic education into curricula and organize voter registration drives on campuses. Utilizing social media and new technology allows officials to use creative and innovative approaches to capture the attention of young voters. By tailoring outreach efforts to the preferences and interest of young voters, officials can effectively encourage their active participation in local elections. 

4. Make Registration Easier 

Simplifying the voter registration process nearly ensures an increase in local voter turnout, especially for citizens with familial responsibilities, busy work schedules, or a lack of reliable transportation. Local government officials should consider implementing online registration systems and automatic voter registration where feasible to contribute to a more accessible and inclusive registration process. 

Local populations that may be overlooked can be directly involved with local elections by using mobile registration units that visit various community locations and voter registration events in prominent community locations, providing on-site assistance to those who need help navigating the registration process. 

Take a look at GovPilot’s Municipal and County Clerks’ Software.

5. Incentives and Recognition For Voters:

As silly as it may sound to some, providing incentives or recognition for voting can help encourage citizens to get out and vote. This could include partnerships with local businesses to offer discounts or freebies for voters on Election Day. Acknowledging and celebrating civic participation through social media, community events, or local news can create a positive atmosphere around voting. 

Improve Voter Turnout In Your Municipality Now

Local government officials should get involved in local election processes throughout the entire year, to increase voter turnout and ensure an accurate representation of the community’s needs come November. Participating in local elections allows government officials to contribute to the betterment of their community by influencing issues including education, improving public safety, infrastructure, and local economic development.

Book a consultation with GovPilot today to learn more about what our software can do for you!

Increased Voter Turnout FAQ’s 

  • Why should local governments care about local voting turnout?

Local governments should care about voting turnout because citizen participation in local elections upholds the principles of democracy, ensures effective representation of their community, and fosters a community-driven approach to local government.  

  • What is improved in a locality with higher voter turnout? 

Higher voter turnout in local elections improves the legitimacy of election results, representative governance, and community cohesion. Greater voter participation in local elections enhances the functioning of democratic systems at the local level and leads to more effective, inclusive, and responsive governance. 

  • Why is voter turnout so important? 

Voter turnout is crucial in local elections because it directly impacts the issues and concerns of local citizens who experience the effects of the democratic system in their daily lives. Increased voter turnout ensures accurate representation of the population, policy alignment, and social stability in your municipality. 

  • What is high voter turnout? 

High voter turnout refers to a significant percentage of eligible voters actively participating in a given election by casting their vote. The threshold for what constitutes a “high” turnout may vary based on the type of election, geographical location, and historical context. 

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Tags: Government Efficiency, Digital Transformation, GovTech