A municipal primary that may eliminate only one candidate from the field in setting the November ballot could cost a city as much as $50,000.
But other than being able to advance candidates to a November general election through a nominating convention — a process that Fruit Heights uses — the state election code offers little flexibility for cities trying to reduce election costs.
However, efforts are being made at the county level to consolidate municipalities’ polling locations, and there are rumblings at the state Capitol that lawmakers during the 2012 legislative session may look at changes in the state’s election code. “Cost is certainly an issue,” State Director of Elections Mark Thomas said of lawmakers’ interest in revisiting the code. “But it shouldn’t be the No. 1 issue.”
Methods likely to be discussed at the session include increasing the number of candidates for a position needed to force a municipal primary; consolidating the primary and general election through the use of two separate ballots; and giving voters the ability to rank the entire field of candidates from first to last, said Thomas, who works out of Lt. Gov. Greg Bell’s office.
Another option is to have the state handle all elections in centralizing costs, said Leah Murray, Weber State University associate professor of political science.
“But that takes some work and legislation.”
Representatives of the Utah League of Cities and Towns are aware of the increasing costs cities are having to bear in hosting municipal elections.
“We haven’t had many concerns expressed, but a perpetual concern has been the rising cost of elections,” said Lincoln Shurtz, director of legislative affairs for ULCT.
Full Article: County, state ponder election changes to reduce costs.