Monday, August 3, 2009

Fair Vote Lowell Press Release

Below is a press release from Fair Vote Lowell:

City Reformers Hit the Streets on August 9th

On August 9th city reformers will be canvassing Lowell’s neighborhoods in an effort to obtain the remaining signatures needed for the petition to change Lowell’s voting system. The event is part of the Fair Vote Lowell Campaign, an initiative to replace Lowell’s “winner-take-all” system to the more democratic and fair “choice voting” system.

LOWELL, MA July 30, 2009 – On August 9th, dozens of committed citizens will take to the streets in an effort to reform Lowell’s voting system. They will go door-to-door in neighborhoods across the city collecting signatures to get a petition on the November 3rd ballot to replace Lowell’s current “winner-take-all” voting system to the more democratic and fair “choice voting” system. It is also an opportunity for those who want to sign the petition but have not yet had the opportunity to drop by and sign it!

Organized by the Fair Vote Lowell Campaign, the event anticipates that dozens of people will get over 2400 signatures in about four hours. The event is open to anyone who wants to help revitalize Lowell’s voting system. Participants will meet at 25 Fairmont Street in Lowell at 1:00 pm on August 9th to get their training and marching orders.

Armed with petitions, pens, maps, voter registration lists, food and drinks, this band of reformers are confident that the first step to changing Lowell’s voting system will be accomplished. Event organizers plan to end the day with more food, fun and lively conversation. For those who want to participate but cannot make the August 9th date, please contact event organizers.

Fair Vote Lowell reformers are frustrated with the current “at-large,” “winner-take-all” voting system that allows for as few as 51% of voters to win up to all 9 city council seats. The remaining 49% of voters often feel that their vote doesn’t count. When that happens, they eventually become discouraged and stop voting. In fact, voter turnout in Lowell has declined from over 70% before adopting the current system to the dismal 26% turnout in the last election. The current system also creates barriers for candidates from smaller neighborhoods, lower income neighborhoods, and diverse neighborhoods from being elected. Finally, it is very expensive for new candidates to run a winning campaign. In 2005 the average cost for first time winning candidates was $31,649 and in 2007 that increased to $42,682.

Fair Vote organizers feel that now is the time for Lowell to revitalize its city government. Many of Lowell’s brightest and most talented residents won’t run for office because the barriers to getting elected feel overwhelming. According to Victoria Fahlberg, a Fair Vote Lowell reformer, “The entire city is losing out with the current system. Choice voting in Lowell will level the playing field for new candidates. It is a system that is more democratic than what we currently have and will provide fair representation for all of Lowell’s residents.”

Again, August 9th is the day for those who want to reform Lowell’s voting system and to join with other committed reformers and make change happen. The location is 25 Fairmount St. in Lowell, meeting time is 1:00pm. All reformers welcome!

About Fair Vote Lowell:

Fair Vote Lowell is an initiative to increase voter participation, open up opportunities for new candidates, and create local elective bodies that are representative of all residents in Lowell, Massachusetts. Our mission is simple: We’re here to transform Lowell's voting system for local elections of city councilors and school committee from the current "Winner take All" system to "Choice Voting", a system that is fair and promotes greater representation for all.

Victoria Fahlberg ONE Lowell 978-654-6957

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