Laura Rótolo, field director at the ACLU of Massachusetts, today released the following statement in response to the Massachusetts primary elections for sheriff:
“Yesterday’s voter turnout shows that when voters are given a real choice on the ballot and given the information they need about candidates’ records and positions, they will get involved and show up at the polls. We’re proud that the ‘Know Your Sheriff’ campaign has contributed to a meaningful conversation about the life-changing impacts sheriffs have on people, and the power of voters to demand safer communities for all. When we began this campaign, we were surprised to learn that even people who follow local politics and vote regularly were unclear what role the sheriff plays. Since then, we have had many meaningful conversations with community members to unpack the role sheriffs play in their lives. The work doesn’t stop with the primary election: Again in November, voters in several counties will have the opportunity to vote their values and demand a more just criminal legal system for all.”
The “Know Your Sheriff” campaign is a statewide voter education initiative by the ACLU of Massachusetts. While the ACLU does not endorse or oppose any candidate for office, the campaign set out to inform voters about the role of sheriffs, the life-changing decisions that sheriffs make, and how voters can move sheriffs to make communities safer and more just for all.
A January 2022 poll commissioned by the ACLU shows a lack of knowledge among Massachusetts voters about the roles and responsibilities of sheriffs. Fewer than one-in-five voters (17%) could correctly name their local sheriff. Nearly half (41%) did not know that sheriffs are elected, while 90% did not know that a sheriff’s term is six years. The same poll shows that after learning more about sheriffs, 71% of voters said they are very likely to vote in the next election for local sheriff, a 26-point increase from the start of the survey (45%).
Since the campaign launch in April 2022, the ACLU has worked in partnership with organizations across the state, including the League of Women Voters, Massachusetts Women of Color Coalition, the Massachusetts Voter Table and the NAACP, to engage in voter education and mobilization efforts. To date, this includes candidate forums in contested districts, public education events, candidate questionnaires, digital outreach, phone banks, and more.
For more information about “Know Your Sheriff,” go to: https://www.aclum.org/knowyoursheriff