The winner in Tuesday's election - the vote not cast

13% of registered voters vote in City Council primary - Allston/Brighton TAB

Something in the neighborhood of 45,000 people who could have voted in the election on Tuesday did not cast a vote. So while Mark Ciommo topped the ticket with 31% of the vote (1,406 votes), he actually received votes from only 3% of the 50,000 possible voters!

While talking to people in North Allston on Tuesday it became clear that many people:
  1. Didn't know there was an election
  2. Realized there was an election but didn't feel they knew enough about any of the candidates
  3. Didn't realize they were eligible to vote (Some confusion resulted from the Democratic primary special election held earlier this month to elect a new State Senator. One registered Republican I spoke with was turned away from the polls at that election and incorrectly assumed he also was unable to vote in Tuesday's election)
There are so many relatively simple ways that more could be done to help people learn about elections and make the relevant information more accessible.
  1. The city puts a variety of pamphlets in our water and real estate tax bills. How about one with information about upcoming elections?
  2. A few times a year the city hires people to go door to door to every home in city distributing information about winter parking rules (that don't ever seem enforced) and pickup of leaves and yard waste for composting. How about a reminder flyer the day of the election?
  3. As I mentioned in a posting last week, the city's election website could be so much better. At the very least it could be very clear about when elections are happening, how to register to vote, who is eligible to vote (Dem/Rep), and have links to the websites of each candidate.
  4. The WallUSA bus shelters all over the city are natural places to inform people about important civic events. These are highly visible billboards on city property that, for a few days a year, could publicize elections instead of the usual advertisements.

The total population of Allston/Brighton is 70,000 and 63,000 (85%) of us are old enough to vote. 14,000 (20%) Allston/Brighton residents are not US citizens. This means there are approximately 50,000 eligible voters who live here. 36,000 (72%) of those people are registered voters. (Some people who are not old enough to vote are also not US citizens, but that breakdown is not readily available from the census data)


  1. And, ironically, the Secretary of the Commonwealth lives in this district - someone should ask him why only 13% of his neighbors cast votes in this election.

    I've often thought that around 20% of all Elections Division staff salaries should be given out based on the percentage of people who voted in that year's election. You can bet they'd then be scrambling to spend tax dollars on billboards and flyers.

  2. Margaret O'Connell11:19 PM

    I am Allston (Union Sq) resident and homeowner. The recent elections have been confusing and I have received so much candidate junk mail that it results in me reading none of it.'
    I forgot to vote in the recent State Senator race! Luckily my candidate won.
    I did vote in the City Council race.
    Now I notice there is yet another election Oct 9 - I am guessing it is for at-large City Council in which case I will go just to cast votes for my men Sam Yoon and Felix Arroyo who should have no trouble winning but, gee, why couldn't all 3 of these races be on the same day?
    I think voter apathy is partially because of this definite inconvenience!

  3. Margaret O'Connell11:23 PM

    I just checked the city election web site and no mention of Oct 9 (just Nov 6). There is a sign at the lights near Jackson-Mann which indicates we are to vote Oct 9, 2007 so this is why I have the confusion.

  4. Anonymous1:15 PM

    People don't vote in these elections because the city councilor has no effect on their lives. There are a few people who can get tiny handouts from the city and maybe they vote.

    Nobody in the city council race raised economic or tax policy on how to encourage better employment in the city, so nobody comes from the right except Glennon on social issues.

    The question is whether people gain enough to protect from the institutions and the developers, and then whether they will put their money where their mouths are.

    It's really a question of money.

  5. Anonymous1:19 PM

    Margaret, Oct. 9 is the final election for the vacant state senate seat. Obviously this is just a formality with Gallucio the only candidate. Hope that helps.