Weak Mayor Systems and Voter Turnout

Posted: 31 May 2007

Date Written: May 2007


This paper examines the impact of weak and strong mayoral forms of government on voter turnout in local elections. This study reviews the structural, systemic and institutional factors which may contribute to low voter turnout and voter apathy. The relationship between the structure of local governments and low voter turnout are reviewed to determine if voters are more likely to participate in the electoral process when they believe government has the ability and the capacity to be responsive to pressing social, economic and political issues. This study moves forward on the premise that voters, at all levels, want a government that has both the legal authority and the structural capacity to address their needs and concerns and are less likely to participate in the process when these devices are not in place. For example, voters who are concerned about government responsiveness may be less likely to participate in the electoral process when there is a weak mayor system in place. The reason being, a weak mayor has almost no real power or legal authority to influence policies, programs or actions of the city council. This makes it difficult for a mayor, in a weak mayor system, to be responsive to the needs of citizens.

Keywords: mayors, voter apathy, strong mayor system, weak mayor system, low voter turnout, government responsiveness

JEL Classification: H10, H70, R50

Suggested Citation

McFayden, Elgie, Weak Mayor Systems and Voter Turnout (May 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=988615 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.988615

Elgie McFayden (Contact Author)

Kentucky State University ( email )

400 East Main Street
Frankfort, KY 40601
United States
502-597-6665 (Phone)
502-597-5931 (Fax)

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