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A grim prediction on city election turnout

In November’s Boston City Council elections, the name of the game will be limbo – how low can turnout go?

The modern nadir dates to 2007, when voter turnout hit 13.6 percent or just over 46,000 people. To put that number in context: 22,000 more people packed Gillette Stadium to cheer for the Patriots. In August. For the first preseason game.

In other words, an exhibition football game played by second- and third-string no-names drew far more attention that a City Council election. And for democracy, it may only get worse.

“I expect the turnout this year will be below 46,000 and very likely closer to 11 or 12 percent,” said Lawrence S. DiCara, a longtime political watcher and former City Council president. “There are only 5 candidates in the at-large election. Because there was no preliminary, none of them have spent a lot of money, put up signs, and generated excitement.”


Earlier this month there were two preliminary elections in district City Council races that attracted a trickle of voters. A heated contested in District 4 drew only 7 percent of voters to the polls. An upstart candidate named Andrea Joy Campbell trounced longtime City Councilor Charles Yancey. The two will face off again in the November’s final election.

“There’s only one real district contest,” DiCara said. “All the rest everybody expects the incumbents will sail through to victory with big margins.”

“I don’t think it is very good for democracy,” DiCara said.

Andrew Ryan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @globeandrewryan.