Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Boston City Council Election Day voting turnout shows decrease from last year

Yufei Meng
A vote sign near the Boston Common. (Yufei Meng/Beacon Staff)

On Tuesday, Nov. 7, Americans all across the country had the opportunity to vote for their elected city officials, specifically city council members. Boston comprises 55 communities with nine districts being represented in the Boston City Council. 

Across Boston, there are a total of 275 polling stations within 22 wards and 21 drop boxes, with the closest polling stations to Emerson College being Copley Square Library, Old South Church, Massachusetts State House, Boston Chinese Evangelical Church, Wang YMCA of Chinatown, St. Anthony Shrine, and City Hall Plaza. The closest drop boxes are in the Boston Center for Youth and Families (BCYF) Quincy Community Center and City Hall Plaza.

This year, eight candidates were in the race for four available seats. As of Nov. 8 at 11:20 p.m. unofficial Boston results report Enrique Pepén for District 5, John FitzGerald for District 3, and Henry Santana will join the council alongside three incumbent at-large city councilors: Ruthzee Louijeune, Erin Murphy, and Julia Mejia. Mayor Michelle Wu’s endorsed candidates have all made it into office, which is expected by Adam Reilly, political analyst, to create a better mayor-council relationship, hopefully resulting in more productivity amongst city politicians. 

There were a total of 78,172 ballots cast in contrast to the 180,830 cast in the 2022 municipal election. There can be many factors to this including lost mail-in-ballots, unaccounted for votes, and even difficulty accessing a place to cast a vote. The Boston Election Department reported that about 15 percent of registered voters had cast their ballots as of 6 p.m. Tuesday. 

“I think [voting] definitely could be more accessible, like mailboxes and stuff like that,” said Dorothy White, a first-year theatre and performance major. “Especially on Native American reservations and how there are fewer mailboxes on those reservations, it’s a form of voter oppression.” 

According to White, access to voting has been a continuous issue. White was able to obtain a mail-in ballot, but some people she knew were not. 

Although mail-in ballots provide an alternative option to those who cannot access a voting station, there are still accessibility issues such as limited drop box locations, mailing issues, and even the costs that come associated with voting. Even though voting is free, transportation to a voting or drop box location can cost time and money. 

“I think that with mail-in ballots it’s become a little more accessible, especially since COVID a lot of people still don’t leave their house,” said Angeline Javan, senior public relations major who opted for a mail-in ballot. “Some people are still high risk, and people who are registered to vote in states that they’re not living in, mail-in ballots are super helpful with that, but also to take in account the people who are unhoused, how do they vote?” 

The Boston City Council election, along with many municipal elections around the country, was not very vocal in advertising who was running and what they were running for White. Some Emerson students, according to White, did not even know there was an election. According to a study done by Portland State University, the median age for voters in Boston is 51 years old. In the Boston area, there are 345,157 college students, according to Bloomberg’s Biggest College Towns List68.5 percent of college students voted in the 2020 presidential election, according to Masspring students, a website focused around providing students with information about current happenings. 

“I was talking about it in some of my classes and people didn’t even know there was a general election, so definitely more information [is needed],” White said. “For Emerson, I was noticing that on the Instagram accounts … there isn’t much awareness like ‘this is voting day,’ ‘this is the importance of general elections,’ and things like that, so I think that [for] the faculty and staff, I think it would be a really good idea to just remind students and it doesn’t take that long and it’s just really important.”

Many Emerson students, like Cole High, a freshman media arts production major, were able to access all the information they needed to cast their ballot because of websites and organizations like Vote.org, City Council Official websites, and Vote 411. High did travel back to his home state of Rhode Island to vote in his local municipal election, but still informed himself of the candidates in Boston. 

“Vote.org helped a lot. They had a very easy guide of where your polling stations are [and] what your ballot was gonna look like,” High said. “I feel like a lot of young people have voices and you can’t really represent your voice in politics until you turn 18, so I think that voting as soon as you turn 18 gives a voice to the youth.”

Voting is one of the many ways that people, especially young people, can voice their political opinions. Students at Emerson were given the option to vote in the Boston municipal election, which directly impacts the city and state where they currently attend college and live. 

“It’s important to have a voice in what goes on around you. It’s something that I’ve been very passionate about since a young age,” said Ahni Brown, a freshman writing, literature, and publishing major who returned to their home state of Indiana to vote. “When I was able to vote, especially in modern times where everything is so politicized, I wanted to make sure my voice was heard and the things that matter to me are being prioritized.”

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About the Contributor
Kaitlyn Smitten
Kaitlyn Smitten, Staff Writer
Kaitlyn Smitten (she/her) is a freshman journalism student from Red Deer, Alberta. Canada. Kaitlyn is a part of the Emerson College softball team and enjoys traveling, reading, and listening to music. She aspires to be an investigative and/or breaking news reporter.

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