SCOTIA – Only 18% of registered voters in Scotia turned out Tuesday to vote on a $13.8 million bond referendum for a new fire station and upgrades to the municipal facilities.
The referendum passed 440 to 369.
However, that’s a lower voter turnout than in 2004 when 27.3% of registered voters turned out to significantly vote down – 1,209 to 166 – a $7.3 million bond referendum. At that time the village anticipated the fire station and municipal project to cost $8.1 million.
Then-Mayor Michael McLaughlin took a lot of criticism for not adequately informing the public of the project.
This time the village held several of public information forums. The first one had a few dozen people, but by the last forum, Gifford said only six residents not involved in the project turned out.
Because of the turnout for the last public forum Gifford said he wasn’t particularly surprised by how many people voted.
“The people who were speaking out were the same people,” he said. “Eight-hundred is still a lot of people.”
But still neither referendum–2004 or 2022– got even half the number of registered voters to turn out. That’s not uncommon though, said Zoe Oxley, a political science professor at Union College.
“People are much more likely to vote in high stimulus elections,” Oxley said.
So think presidential elections or hotly contested races where parties have brought a lot of attention to the candidates or issues.
She said issues of great concern also can bring people out to vote if people are actively in the community trying to get people to vote a certain way.
But because the referendum happened in the off cycle – a time when people aren’t thinking about voting – it could have played a role in low voter turnout, as well as it being the only item people were voting on.
And while there was chatter about the project on Facebook, social media platforms don’t tend to push people out to vote, Oxley said. That’s because those discussing it on social media were likely already inclined to vote one way or the other. Same goes for the village listserv, she said, which is likely reaching people who are more inclined to stay up-to-date on what’s happening and vote.
She said studies have shown knocking on doors does though.
There also weren’t many signs out stating vote one way or another like can typically be seen for elections or issues on a ballot.
“Typically there has to be a lot of activity prior to the vote,” she said.
Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SB_DailyGazette.