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Election Timing – a “Perfect” but “Difficult” League Study

Celeste Landry | Published on 4/13/2022
Our new LWVBC study on Timing of Local Elections is particularly relevant this month.  Erie and Nederland held elections for mayor and town trustees on April 5, and Louisville is holding a special election on the Redtail Ridge development question on April 19.

An LWVBC Erie League member pointed us to Erie’s Facebook page cautioning voters that some campaign door hangers directed voters to the locked County Elections ballot drop-box instead of the correct Erie Town Hall ballot drop-box!  Another LWVBC Erie League member has inquired about Erie’s election processes and costs so we can better understand non-coordinated local elections.

A former LWVBC president called this topic “perfect” for a League study, while at the April 5th LWV Piedmont (CA) Defending Democracy Series, the elections law expert Rick Hasen called the question “difficult.”  He said (question starting at 49:45 on the  Recording):

On the one hand, low-turnout elections are really bad for democracy. … If you move elections to the same time as, say, the president … even if there are some roll-offs [contests left blank toward the bottom of the ballot], … you’ll get more turnout.
On the other hand, there are lots of negative consequences of nationalizing local elections.  First, it’s hard to get attention.  … Think about the last two presidential campaigns, they are all-consuming affairs.  … Who’s going to pay attention to [your board of supervisors] race, and especially if it is a non-partisan race?  … to the extent there are partisan labels next to candidates’ names. … You might vote Democrat all the way down the ballot or Republican all the way down the ballot …
Think about trash collection, the problem of homelessness, the things that affect us every day.  There is so much more power on the local level than the national level.
It’s hard to know how to balance those things.
 
If you are interested in helping with this perfect-difficult League study, please email study@lwvbc.org or call Celeste Landry at 303 440 4395.