This morning’s Arizona Capitol Times includes a story about several counties’ call for the Governor to veto an election consolidation bill. According to the article, 27 county officials and 40 of 76 affected municipalities signed a letter arguing that the bill “would stamp out local control, politicize non-partisan elections and increase election costs.” More specifically, they are concerned that by bringing local elections in line with federal and state elections would create a host of problems.
… Looking behind the specifics of the bill, this dispute looks like the classic big vs. small, urban vs. rural issue that often divides state and local officials. The larger counties like Maricopa obviously see the benefits of the economies of scale that would accompany consolidation – while other, smaller jurisdictions focus more on the loss of other benefits that would result from consolidation’s effort to emphasize cost and convenience. There is no “right” answer in this disagreement; indeed, this is just the kind of policy choice with which legislatures struggle every day.
In some ways, the root of the problem may be in the uniform requirement that all counties and municipalities engage in consolidation. If larger jurisdictions see the benefit of and want to harmonize their election calendar, that should be considered; to the extent that smaller counties and jurisdictions want to keep their pre-existing calendars, that’s important, too.