Ridgewood local election turnout is higher in the spring than in November, demonstrated by data available from the Bergen County Clerk.
The November local elections experiment in Ridgewood has already failed. Turnout for Board of Education elections held in November from 2014 -2018 spanned from 12.5% (one of our lowest turnouts in the past several years) to 35.5%, an overall average of 24%. During that time, typically hotly contested Board of Education seats went uncontested for four out of those five elections. People stopped paying attention once the local elections were held simultaneously with national, state, and county issues.
Data for Ridgewood local elections held in the spring demonstrates that when voters have the opportunity to focus specifically on our local issues, turnout is higher. This year’s May election had a 29% turnout, higher than the entire November 2019 general election turnout of 22%. Average turnout for Ridgewood local elections is about 2% higher in the spring than in November.
A recent California study on election consolidation demonstrates that even the small incremental increases in voter turnout in certain large cities are not directly attributable to local elections or smaller municipalities. The study also cautions on the negative impact of voter consolidation, when “longer ballots might render it cognitively difficult for voters to make a choice in all contests leading to increased rates of voter roll-off” (when voters only vote for the higher office elections).