Opinion Columns & Blogs

Kansas not alone in rethinking local election timing

When the governor and 2015 Legislature approved moving the nonpartisan municipal and school board elections from spring to fall of odd-numbered years as of 2017, they had to overcome strong local objections. They also stopped short of some proponents’ goal of making the races partisan and concurrent with regular elections in even-numbered years. But Kansas is not alone in trying to improve abysmal turnout by rescheduling these contests, according to Governing magazine. In Arkansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oregon and Rhode Island, municipal elections already occur in November of even-numbered years. California is working on a measure to force the localities with the worst turnout to elect leaders at the same time as state and federal elections. Los Angeles’ City Council considered offering cash prizes to voters through a lottery. “There’s a trend across the country to move toward concurrent elections,” Curtis Wood, a political scientist formerly at the University of Kansas, told Governing. Of course, consolidating elections also saves money. – Rhonda Holman