Gaithersburg City staff members are working to increase voter turnout in this year's City elections with a new multimedia communications plan, City Attorney Lynn Board and Public Relations Director Britta Monaco told the Mayor and Council Monday night.
Board said the City will place a new emphasis on social media, such as Facebook and YouTube, to give residents information about the elections and encourage them to vote. The city's YouTube channel will not only host candidate messages, but also information about polling places and how to register to vote, for example.
The City will also use traditional banners and signs along major roadways to advertise the elections, Board said. Mayor Sidney Katz suggested that the City resume using banners over railways because he said that residents had noted that they were very noticeable. Residents should also expect to see election signs in bus shelters as the elections draw near.
The communications plan is part of a broader effort by Gaithersburg to increase citizen involvement in the city's government. In last week's council meeting, for example, Katz asked that the many residents who came to voice their opinions about the Land Use Element in the city's Master Plan, which is currently under revision, also briefly state how they learned about that night's discussion. This was quickly forgotten, however, in the face of a packed council chamber that ran the public appearances part of the meeting to more than an hour and a half.
Turnout has fluctuated in the past three elections, from less than 10 percent in 2005 to a record-high 14.6 percent in 2007. In the last election in 2009, 12.92 percent of eligible voters came out to the polls.
The 2011 Election Day will be Nov. 8. Residents have until Oct. 24 to register to vote.