FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 9, 2018
CONTACT: ATNRE ALLEYNE, (302) 497-3226
Wilmington, Del. – Colonial, Christina and Caesar Rodney School Districts saw some of their highest voter turnouts in years during the 2018 school board elections. Yet, overall participation in Delaware school board elections remained staggeringly low yesterday despite the tremendous responsibility our school board members hold when it comes to public education.
“Voting rates were disappointing despite our robust efforts, and the efforts of several other community groups—but that is not a cause of despair for us,” said Atnre Alleyne, executive director of the education advocacy nonprofit DelawareCAN.
The group ran a get-out-the-vote campaign this year called “Who Runs Our Schools?” that engaged thousands of Delawareans—and turned out many first-time voters.
“‘Who Runs Our Schools?’ created some momentum—but changing the status quo takes a sustained movement,” Alleyne said. “It’s most important that we connect people with their schools and boards year round. This will make voting next May a logical extension and not a standout experience.”
In some cases, low voter turnout translated into slim margins of victory for board candidates; 16 votes in Caesar Rodney decided the winner, for instance. The largest vote margin was in Brandywine at 520 votes.
A DelawareCAN analysis of election activity showed that Colonial District G and Smyrna School District generated the greatest polling activity relative to any other contested races over the past six years, while Red Clay’s only contested race—between Jose Matthews and Joseph DiMichele in District D—brought out 400 more voters than in 2013, when that seat was last up for election.
Altogether, voters in Red Clay, Caesar Rodney and Christina were the most active during this year’s elections, while Woodbridge, Lake Forest and Indian River saw the lowest voting rates; in Woodbridge, just 191 ballots were cast.
“DelawareCAN exists to change the sad fact that our education system regularly excludes newcomers and advantages insiders,” Alleyne said. “Most important decisions in education are made with little engagement from everyday folks. School board election participation is not unique.”
Through “Who Runs Our Schools?” DelawareCAN connected directly with thousands of Delawareans across the state, including 300 registered voters identified the night before the election through a phone survey. Nearly one-third of these voters said they were not aware an election was taking place.
On the day of the election, “Who Runs Our Schools?” served as a key information-sharing website for Delawareans to plan their votes, amounting to almost 21,000 site hits.
“With so many contested races in New Castle County, the constituents were fortunate enough to have a website, along with DelawareCAN, to provide a single source of information on the candidates,” said candidate Ronnie Williams, who won his race on Tuesday. “As a candidate in a contested race, I used the site to see what information was readily available on my opponent, who has held his seat for at least 15 years.”
Williams added: “As a constituent, I wanted to get more information about the candidates that were running for the other Nominating Areas. I was even concerned with my alma mater district, Red Clay, since I run an alumni page. WhoRunsOurSchools.com did not fail to deliver.”