I am going to present a Policy Order to request that an Election Rehearsal at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School take place before each City Council election. These rehearsals would be run by the Election Commission, and the participants would be high school students. I believe that this would be a simple way to both preempt logistical issues and invest young voters in local politics.
WHEREAS: Youth voter turnout has decreased in recent decades, as documented by groups such as CIRCLE at Tufts University; and
WHEREAS: Cambridge’s November 19th, 2014 Strategic Recommendations for a Citywide Plan acknowledges that, “Many [adult] members of underserved communities of Cambridge do not have the same awareness of, and therefore ability to access, city resources,” indicating a lack of civic familiarity; and
WHEREAS: A 2010 Harvard Study by Jennifer Bachner concurs with other literature, finding that civic engagement at school increases voter turnout, most notably in depoliticized households; and
WHEREAS: There is a general lack of emphasis on municipal elections among the electorate, and as such these are not the focus of efforts to engage youth voters, preventing an increase in turnout; and
WHEREAS: Problems with election day logistics and infrastructure, which come to light each political cycle, are likely due to the fact that there is no way to simulate the election beforehand; now therefore be it
ORDERED: The City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the Election Commission and the appropriate city departments to determine a feasibility study and subsequent action plan, institutionalizing mock municipal elections in Cambridge schools before each election; and be it further
ORDERED: The City Manager be and hereby is requested to report back to the City Council on this matter.