Portuguese Town Uses Gamification to Get an Amazing 25% Turnout for Participatory Budgeting

The Portuguese town of Ovar recently had an impressive 25 percent of its residents turn out to vote in its first participatory budgeting campaign. A seaside town of 55,398, Ovar is one of the oldest municipalities in Portugal. The city implemented participatory budgeting as a means for the current mayor, Salvador Malheiro, to connect with the citizens and better engage young people.
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To get such remarkable civic engagement, the participatory budgeting program, which was allotted 100,000€, used a gamification strategy with a leader board that displayed which proposals were receiving the most votes. It also gave people both online and offline methods of voting, with either paper ballots or through a website.
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Everyone over the age of 16, whether residents, workers, or students, was invited to vote, and leading up to the vote, officials organized 36 in-person meetings for information sharing and proposal gathering. These brought together over 1,000 citizens.