Voter turnout for municipal elections low in Worcester, Mass.

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November 5, 2013, 6:00 pm
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(NECN: Mike Cronin) - Signs outside, ballots inside, but voters were few and far between. It's becoming a common sight in Worcester municipal elections.

"It's your civic duty and we want the people in to help us at city level and at the school committee," Worcester resident Mary Stratford says.

It's a view held by most at the may street polling location. The problem is, there weren't many others there to share it with.

"Rather light turnout today... More comparable to some of the primary we had this year, people coming in pretty much know who they're going to vote for. They're not taking a long time," election warden Paul Franco says.

Franco says they see a lot of the same faces at the polls.

"We're getting to know the voters by first name," he says.

It's something Kerry Mulcahy is researching. An English teacher at Doherty High School, she's completing her doctorate on urban schools. Her thesis is about low voter turnout in Worcester municipal elections.

"Is it apathy? Is it parking? Is it not enough information? What are some of the reasons people don't vote?" she says.

Mulcahy says there's 75,000 Worcester residents registered to vote who have never voted in a city election. On Tuesday, she launched a random online survey asking people why they do or do not vote.

"Worcester's just one city out of the whole country that has this problem so it's not just a what's wrong with Worcester kind of a thing. So how can we work at making people feel more engaged in their community?" she says.

The survey will be open for two weeks. Mulcahy is hoping to have her thesis done by next month as well as have some suggestions on how to more people to the polls.

"So there's a lot of things that could change and Worcester's been really great about getting on board with this and I'm hoping that we can make some policy changes through this," Mulcahy says.

Tags: massachusetts, Worcester, Mike Cronin, Worcester municipal elections, Kerry Mulcahy, Paul Frano, Mary Stratford
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