Blog

Collective Impact Report: 2021 Elections Democracy HUBS Impact Report

Massachusetts voters made great strides toward equitable representation in city halls in 2021. Michelle Wu is the first person of color and first woman elected as mayor of Boston. Thu Nguyen is the first Southeast Asian elected to Worcester City Council and the first non-binary elected official in Massachusetts. After a lawsuit ended the discriminatory at-large voting system in Lowell, Corey Robinson was elected the first Black city councilor, and an unprecedented three Cambodian Americans will serve on the city council, two from new district seats. Majority Latinx Holyoke elected Joshua Garcia, the first Latino to serve as mayor.

The Massachusetts Voter Table asked the Democracy HUBS partner organizations about their Most Valuable Players of civic engagement in 2021. We received 41 heart-felt submissions that showed genuine admiration and gratitude for the work of trusted leaders, who ensured that their neighbors cast ballots in the historic municipal elections. Link to full report! (Lowell Votes team members featured on pages 5-6).

 


Amalina Bhat, Former Lowell Votes Intern (2020)

The foundation of our democracy relies on listening and advocating for the voices that are often silenced and ignored. Our country looks quite different from when the Founding Fathers constructed the Constitution–demographics have changed, technology has advanced, and our population has increased exponentially. As a result, it has become increasingly important to ensure that all people have access to voting booths and representation in government on both a national and local level. While constitutional amendments have tried to expand these rights to vote to all people in the US, many state laws continue, well past the Civil Rights Era, to hinder these actions. Such restrictions disproportionately affect low income and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) voices from being heard and represented. 

Lowell’s current Asian population makes up the largest, non-white racial demographic, at 23%. Hispanic or latinx residents make up over 18% of Lowell while Black or African American residents make up over 8%. Voter turnout rates in Lowell have varied from region to region. For example, in the outermost regions of the city, comprising a generally older population, the voter turnout rate is relatively high at 50-55% for local elections and 46-48% for all elections. Comparatively, turnout rates in central Lowell are significantly lower ranging from 14% to 30%. A study found that median household income was directly correlated with voter turnout rates, meaning higher household incomes would indicate a higher likelihood of voting in elections. In regards to race and ethnicity, this same study found a negative relationship with non-English speakers or non-white individuals and voter turnout. Link to full article!


Collective Impact Report: Strength in Numbers – 2020 Elections Democracy HUBS Impact Report

The COVID-19 pandemic uncovered deep inequities in Massachusetts. These inequities manifested
in a lack of testing in Gateway Cities; a tradeoff between joblessness and disposability for many Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) workers; and a fatality rate three times higher among Black and Latinx residents than white and Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) residents.

Responding to structural underrepresentation and barriers to civic engagement in communities of color in Lowell, the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association, Coalition for a Better Acre, and Lowell Alliance formed Lowell Votes in 2014. Link to full report! (Lowell Votes feature on pages 10-11)