The study found that local voter turnout averaged 27 percent—less than half of presidential general election turnout—and in some cases was lower than 10 percent. Furthermore, as overall turnout declines in local elections, there is evidence that the diversity of the electorate declines as well. Thus, older, whiter, and wealthier voters increase their voting power, indicating that low voter turnout in local elections is at least in part responsible for disproportionately white local governments across the nation.
These findings show that the conversation around reflective democracy must extend past the national political stage--where many tend to focus their attention--to our local democracies, which often have the largest impact on the daily life and welfare of citizens. FairVote's Promote Our Vote project is working to eliminate these barriers to reflective democracy by advancing pro-suffrage policies and practices in Maryland localities, in the spirit of establishing an explicit right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. To learn more and take action visit Promoteourvote.com, or check out the preliminary version of our Inclusive Democracy Toolkit for ideas and advocacy tips to increase voter turnout.