For years, despite the convenience of a vote-by-mail elections system, voter participation in Burbank has languished below 20%.
There could be a lot of factors for voter apathy, but in some cities with similar systems, it appears a major reason is a simple one: People are cheap. That is, voters can’t be bothered to put a return stamp on their ballots and mail them back to City Hall.
The potential cost — based on similar findings in Santa Barbara, when that city covers the complete cost of mail-in ballots — could be roughly $10,500, assuming 40% voter participation.
It’s a sad state of civic engagement when the one thing standing between the decision to vote or ignore the election is the cost of a postage stamp, but if spending few thousand more dollars on the process means a participation rate of closer to 50%, that’s a small price to pay.
Think of the possible outcome: thousands more residents engaged in the political process, having a stake in the outcome, and lending more political weight to candidates who win office — and the platforms on which they run.
Indeed, this small change could be a political game-changer in local politics.