[Image courtesy of the Courant's capitolwatch]
It's trophy season ... As college football's bowl season wraps up and the NFL playoffs get ready to start, this week Connecticut continued its tradition of recognizing high turnout by awarding the annual Democracy Cup. From a press release by the state:
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today (Jan. 2, 2013) announced the 2012 "Democracy Cup" for the highest voter turnout percentage in the 2012 Presidential election in Connecticut to Bridgewater (94.75 percent) and Middletown (89.86 percent). Other winners are Granby (86.22 percent) and Stamford (71.6 percent).
Co-sponsored by the East Haddam Civic Association since 2000, the Democracy Cup was created as a way to encourage voter participation in each year's elections.
Winners are chosen in four categories: "small towns" are those with fewer than 5,000 registered voters; "mid-sized towns" are those with 5,000 to 14,999 voters; "large towns" are those with 15,000 to 49,999 registered voters. Cities with more than 50,000 registered voters are their own category.
Middletown is the winner of the Democracy Cup in the "large town" category. Bridgewater is the winner in the small town category, the second such award for Bridgewater, which also won the Democracy Cup in 2009.
"All Connecticut communities should be proud of their voter participation this year, especially towns like Bridgewater which has consistently shown high voter interest in our elections," said Scot Mackinnon, co-founder of the Democracy Cup and East Haddam Civic Association member. "What is especially encouraging is seeing a town as large as Middletown record a voter turnout of nearly 90 percent, which is very rare for a community that size. This is really excellent turnout and definitely worth celebrating."
I know I've often lobbied in the past against the use of turnout as a method of judging election performance, but as part of my resolutions for 2013 (see yesterday's electionlineWeekly) I have to say I like the idea of awarding a trophy to local communities, which gives them an opportunity to bask in the success of a job well done. There are some interesting methodological issues - for example, the Cup relies on turnout defined as percentage of active voters who voted instead of VAP - but the idea of using participation as a means to recognize communities for high turnout is still intriguing.
Connecticut's Democracy Cup is a fascinating idea; I wonder if it (or something like it) will catch on in other states?