Q&A #7: Voter Turnout

OK, back to the Ask Me Anything Day questions, after that little outburst. The great Tony Schinella of politizine asks:

What are you thoughts on the upcoming Boston city council races? With it be yet another sleepy affair? With all that is going on with the budget, school cuts, will it be competitive? Will ward councilor like Mike Ross escape challenge once again? What, if anything, can be done to increase voter turnout and participation?

I think I've covered the first three parts of that in previous Q&As -- and sadly, I think the answer to the last one is "more competitive district races," which doesn't seem likely to happen. I will be happy to be proven wrong.

I do think that the general (and generally correct) belief in the irrelevance of the Boston City Council plays a large role in keeping voter participation low in these off-mayoral election years -- and in mayoral years, to the extent that most people don't really think the incumbent is ever in serious danger of losing re-election. As the Council has seemed more relevant of late -- and likely will be even more active during upcoming budget hearings -- I think the perception is beginning to change, and that should eventually affect turnout, but I think that's a slow gradual process.

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