Typical voter turnout in a presidential election year is 50 to 60 percent, according to the Center for the Study of the American Electorate.
Not bad, but hardly impressive when compared with other OPEC high wealth countries many of which average over 70 percent turnout.
In New York State and many other states, turnout for school board elections and for school budget votes hovers around 5 to 15 percent of eligible voters. Frequently, the voters select school board members like Todd Morgan who get elected because of single issue concerns. With such low turnout a highly motivated but very small slice of the potential voters can easily sway a school board member election. This can be also true with votes for or against a school budget.
Frequently, a relatively small number of repeat local voters have personal agendas. For example, they hated the new property assessment system, the superintendent who left the district 10 years ago said something that offended them, they like to read the stories in their local newspaper about the latest shouting match at the school board meeting, etc.
And they can send a school district to electoral and management purgatory for decades due to the low voter turnout numbers and weak leadership quality of their school superintendent and school board members to the point where school board meetings becomes a three ring circus.
Is it more than just low turnout? Is the problem more about the quality, qualifications and leadership experience of the candidates running for the school board? Perhaps.