Voter Education: It Starts Local – Madison Park Development Corporation


Photo: Riley Robinson

Matthews Arena during the 2020 Presidential Election

Aparna Sekhar, Reporter

As Boston gears up for midterm elections on November 8, organizations statewide are tirelessly working to educate and encourage communities to register to vote, understand ballot initiatives, and vote responsibly. 

Madison Park Development Corporation, one of the nation’s first non-profit organizations to independently develop affordable housing for low-income residents, has 1400 residents under its wing in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan. While their mission is to foster Roxbury into a safe, healthy, and vibrant neighborhood, their civic engagement agenda has an important addition – voter education. 

From door-knocking and cold-calling residents to hosting community events at the Dewitt Center in Roxbury, MPDC creates a notable sense of camaraderie among resident volunteers, who share the common goal of increasing voter turnout. 

Allison Anderson, MPDC’s civic engagement coordinator, says, “much of voter education is aimed at informing and educating the residents they can reach. I would say one of the main things we face is definitely language barriers,” she continues, “we have many residents dedicated to sharing election information, but we have to realize not everybody speaks English.”

While it may seem peculiar for your neighbor to turn up at your door, asking you to register to vote, many residents have been in the neighborhood for over 30 years. Most of these long-term neighbors believe that electing a certain spokesperson alone is not enough; every citizen should exercise their right to vote and know how to reach their elected officials to lodge their grievances. 

While MPDC also collaborates with more prominent organizations like Mass Voter table via in-person events or social media, it is the volunteers who are skilled in connecting with their fellow residents to disseminate the correct information – in the language residents successfully are most comfortable with. They also serve as volunteers to communicate new ballot initiatives and clear doubts about the existing ones.

As Boston has seen time and time again, similar efforts toward hyperlocal engagement are essential to a better quality of life in Boston’s neighborhoods, and it’s only a matter of time until more housing companies follow suit.