If the Kansas Legislature’s proposed bill SB 171 gets passed it would mean local city and school candidates would be required to declare a political party, and there would be primary elections in August followed by the general election in November. Supporters argue fall elections would increase voter turnout and making the elections partisan would tell voters where candidates stand in regards to political platforms. A number of bill proponents testified in Topeka this week at the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee hearing. Clay Barker, executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, expressed his support of SB 171.
“There is a lack of citizen participation, and it’s an amazingly large amount of money to spend with very few voters’ input into it, whether it’s cities or school districts,” Barker said. “What we would like to see in this bill is aligning the spring and fall elections so all the voters turn out, and they get to vote on all the positions.”
Before the end of the 2014 legislature session Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center, announced he believed it was time to abandon the old system and move municipal elections to November, where combining them with the state and federal races would generate a larger turnout.
“Plain and simple, turnout for the current system is pitiful, and it gets worse every two years. We need to either figure out a way to increase turnout for the current system or move the elections.”