School board elections are known for having low turnout, but this interactive education tool could help parents and voters better understand the power of their ballot.
Average voter turnout in school board elections
On average, local school board elections have less than 10% of eligible voters turnout.
Despite many attempts to make school district elections more accessible to community members, the overall percentage of voter participation when it comes to public education has remained mostly stable throughout the years.
What school boards commonly do to increase turnout
Here are some easy, oft-cited ways you can increase your voter turnout:
- Timing local school board elections to be in line with mayoral, gubernatorial, or presidential elections
- Allowing partisan elections to help voters stay in informed with potential candidates
Our best voter turnout tips, explained
While some school systems have already adopted these models to change participation stats for local elections, here are eBallot’s suggestion for improving voter turnout at your next district election.
1. Bring students to the (voting) table
Some states and local districts allow students and individuals as young as 16 years old to participate in school board, and even local governance elections, to positive outcomes.
For example, in the Washington D.C. suburban area, several school districts allow students to vote in local school board elections, with some even allowing students to put voting-eligible student leaders on the ballot.
2. Take direction from a local leader
Last year in Western Maryland, Montgomery County Public Schools (one of the top school districts across the state), announced a program where students can nominate fellow students to the school board as representatives, and other districts with similar programs have seen both increases in voter turnout and parent participation in key school board events.
Options like these are also particularly useful for promoting civic engagement of young voters in the United States, especially now that young people are getting their start into politics earlier than ever before.
Planning a school board election?
If you’re considering allowing your students to participate in school board elections, reach out to us.
We’ve helped several school district clients in your same position empower their students to give you the local school board decisions that affect them throughout their academic lives.
3. Introduce Online Voting or Absentee Ballots
Several school districts and private schools offer the option for parents and community leaders to vote for board members online or with absentee ballots.
Leaving paper ballots behind for faster, more efficient electronic voting lets you see complete results in a matter of hours, some platforms even let you see the votes in real-time.
Because these ballots can be accessed on the go, anywhere that your voters have a secured Wifi connection, school boards will get more eyes on their ballots while still having the benefits of 100% anonymous voting.
If your board or district is worried about the security factors, remember, eBallot’s online voting solutions for school board elections allows users to automate voter activity tracking throughout their election, in the event an audit is called for.
The benefits of electronic voting at your school
We’ve already covered the main benefits of promoting online elections in the past, but some of the key pros are:
- More working parents can participate and get to know the school board’s process for creating the policies that impact their children’s education.
- Voters can easily get the lowdown on school board candidates through our secure, online candidate profiles which includes options for election managers to write-in candidate bios or copy and paste their resumes.
- Districts can spend less time and money on voter outreach and printed election materials, instead saving more opportunity to inform voters about their options or upcoming board decisions, such as Delaware’s “Who Runs Our Schools” online campaign.
4. Try out new tactics when promoting your vote
If you’ve tried everything listed above to no avail, consider adding on options for online voter outreach in tandem with your upcoming paper, in-person or online election.
For example, with eBallot’s Pro, Premium and Enterprise voting packages, users can select from “Voter Outreach Email” options if they want to automate the election notification and campaign process.
Other options for school districts who want to improve turnout for next year’s school board votes:
- Election notification postcards with key ballot information and voter guidelines directly mailed to your district’s eligible school board voters.
- Onsite and over the phone voter support for special elections or runoffs to provide election managers, parents and community residents with peace of mind throughout high-stress campaign seasons.
- Holding open elections throughout the school year using a trusted, reliable and non-partisan official voting platform. (Managed elections are available for Enterprise customers only.)
Reach out to eBallot’s Customer Engagement team to learn more about our K-12 education voting packages to see which online ballot solutions is best for your school district.