Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Jack Leonard

Second Advisor

Ray La Raja

Third Advisor

Michael Hannahan


Low voter turnout is a rampant problem, with drastically-shifting city demographics making the issue of representation and parity in the composition of the school board (and municipal offices that impact education) a major concern. Unequal voter participation, particularity in urban municipalities, can impact policy. This research project examined voter participation and barriers to voting in school committee municipal elections in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Participation in the 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011 municipal elections was examined at the precinct-level, by partisan affiliation and gender, to explore voter turnout patterns. Approximately 500 surveys concerning voting practices and barriers were collected directly after the November 5th, 2013, Worcester municipal election. The historically highest and lowest voting precincts were examined for signage and ease of parking. The data reveal a strong class bias, a race bias, as well as geographical biases that contribute to an elite voting culture that could construct inequalities of policy and service. This research indicated a number of barriers to voting in Worcester municipal elections including individual precinct quality and adequate election information.

Schools are where children learn important lessons that shape them into adulthood. The future of a city can be found in its public schools; for this reason, the oversight and guidance of schools is vital to serving the needs of all children in the school system. Creating election processes that encourage and allow all populations in Worcester to engage in the education of their children is an integral part of the city's responsibility to its citizens.


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