“Every published study on election timing and voter turnout shows that combining local elections with state and federal elections is the single most effective change that local governments can make to increase turnout,” Zoltan L. Hajnal, Vladimir Kogan, and G. Agustin Markarian write in the American Political Science Review.
Here’s a compilation of research papers on even-year elections compiled by People for Voter Turnout, a like-minded campaign to bring even-year elections to Boulder, Colorado:
“Low and uneven turnout is a serious problem for local democracy. Fortunately, one simple reform—shifting the timing of local elections so they are held on the same day as national contests—can substantially increase participation.”— ”Who Votes: City Election Timing and Voter Composition”, American Political Science Review
“Off-year municipal elections are known to have low voter turnout. A skewed electorate due to low voter turnout undermines the integrity of our democracy and the chance for all communities to be fairly represented.”— Research Brief: Odd-year vs. Even-Year Consolidates Elections in California
“Moving local elections from off-cycle to the same day as presidential elections is three times more effective at increasing turnout than the most effective mode of mobilization—face-to-face canvassing.”— Timing and Turnout: How Off-cycle Elections Favor Organized Groups
“The data are unequivocal. Across the nation, turnout in cities with on-cycle elections is dramatically higher than those with off-cycle elections. With one simple step, we could move from local elections with a small and generally unrepresentative electorate to those with broad and significantly more representative participation.”— Race and Class Inequality in Local Politics, American Political Science Association
“By focusing on city elections we find that lower turnout leads to substantial reductions in the representation of Latinos and Asian Americans on city councils and in the mayor’s office. For African Americans district elections and off-cycle local elections are more important barriers to representation.”— Where Turnout Matters: The Consequences of Uneven Turnout in City Politics, The Journal of Politics
“Election timing is the number one predictor of voter turnout. Voters are much more likely to turn out for consolidated, even-year elections where they are motivated by the highly visible federal and state contests but also continue to vote in down-ballot local races.”— Increasing Voter Turnout in Local Elections, National Civic League