The numbers are in! Thanks to the enthusiastic response of our voters at the polls, we got some great feedback about the 2014 Neighborhood Council Elections experience. We heard from 7,952 voters this year, and over half of the responses came out of Regions 1, 7, 8, and 11.
Here is a short summary of the results:
Neighborhood Council Priorities
The priority issues for Neighborhood Councils are very similar to those reported during the last Neighborhood Council Elections. By far the most important issue for Neighborhood Councils was public safety, followed by Planning and Development and Zoning and Land Use. Other important areas include youth programs, transportation, historic preservation, and green issues.
Respondents also added to the list of priorities in their comments. Many emphasized education, homelessness, cultural programming, neighborhood beautification and cleanliness, and traffic as important issues in their Neighborhood Councils.
Other frequent comments included:
-sidewalks and streets
-development and gentrification
The most effective way to get out the message may be still the old-fashioned way: personal interaction. 37 percent of respondents said that their friend or neighbor was their source of information about elections, followed by interactions with the candidates. Some got word of the elections through their local organizations. The portion of responses for less personal forms of outreach, with the exception of email and local newsletters, were small in comparison.
There is no substitute for face-to-face communication, especially when it comes to drawing voters to the polls. At the same time, Elections outreach received the highest percentage of responses (20 percent) as an area of improvement. A simple tool like a dynamic website could also be a great asset for the next election cycle. These responses will likely change as Neighborhood Councils continue to expand their online presence and stakeholders come to rely more on these sources for information.
Respondents named our choice of polling location and polling hours as two of the best aspects of the voting experience, followed by our volunteers. The registration process was also well-received among voters. Based on the numbers, most aspects of Election Day worked quite well. The additional comments we received expressed appreciation for the friendliness and helpfulness of volunteers and staff and the ease of the voting process.
Areas of Improvement
Some voters indicated that longer polling place hours would be helpful, and some locations lacked adequate parking. Many requested additional information about the candidates prior to the elections and outside the polling places and signage to make the polling location more visible from the street. Others requested the option of vote by mail.
We would like to thank all of our voters for coming out on Election Day in their neighborhoods and for sharing your comments. They are invaluable to making the elections process better and making sure we repeat our success next time around!
The full survey reports will be available for Neighborhood Councils next week.