A proposed constitutional amendment to move elections of Kentucky officials to even-number years cleared a Senate committee on Wednesday. SB 4, sponsored by Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, would take effect, if approved, following the 2019 elections for Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Auditor, Treasurer and Agriculture Commissioner, giving each of them a one-time, five-year term until the 2024 general election.
Voting Blogs: Abysmal Voter Turnout and an Electoral Dinosaur: Indiana’s Meaningless Off-Year Municipal Elections | State of Elections
All politics is local. That truism (often wrongly attributed to former Rep. Tip O’Neill) has long encouraged politicians to remember the people back home because, ultimately, those people will vote based on the issues that matter to them. But politics is looking a lot less local now. Local concerns have taken a backseat to partisan politics, and local candidates are looking more and more like extensions of their national counterparts. Perhaps these changes can help explain why municipal election voter turnout is plunging across the United States. Indiana, the state with the lowest voter turnout in the country for the 2014 midterm elections, held its most recent off-year municipal elections on November 3.
Los Angeles voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved two measures to change city election dates. Voters will now cast ballots in mayoral, council district, and school board races in even-numbered years, rather than odd-numbered years. The change consolidates city elections with federal and state elections. “It turns out that sometimes, good policy is good politics,” said Fernando Guerra, co-chair of the committee that backed the measures, in a statement. “It’s gratifying that voters supported increased voter participation, and it’s even more gratifying that they did so by such an emphatic margin.”
The campaign to combine Los Angeles’ elections with state and federal contests has been hailed by backers as a way to lift the city’s dismal turnout, which in the last mayoral race was 23%. But more than a dozen candidates for City Council now say that they oppose the idea, claiming it could make races more expensive and give a leg up to incumbents and others backed by special interests. Charter Amendments 1 and 2 were put on the March 3 ballot by the council to reverse a decline in voter participation during the odd-year city and school board elections. On the campaign trail, however, several candidates — some experiencing their first brush with the election process — have begun warning that the date change would have other, less positive, consequences.
There are some rumblings about Virginia’s odd-year state elections that have some of the state’s more sensitive (and partisan) antennae twitching. One is Del. Marcus Simon’s proposal for a Constitutional amendment that elections for state and local offices be held at the same time as federal elections – that is, in even years. (You can read it here.) Another is a recent court challenge to House of Delegates districts. Simon, a Falls Church Democrat, says the idea behind his proposal is to boost turnout. Millions fewer Virginians show up to vote for members of the General Assembly in odd years than show up in federal elections, particularly in years like 2015 when there is no race for governor. In 2011, for instance, 1.5 million Virginians voted for members of the House of Delegates and State Senate. In the 2012 presidential race, about 3.8 million voted.
The turnout for Tuesday general election was the lowest recorded level since World War II, according to the United States Election Project. A scant 36.4 percent of the voting-eligible population cast ballots last week, marking the smallest percentage participation since 1942, when less than 34 percent went to the polls. Voter participation has generally been in decline since the early 1960s. Years with presidential elections usually see higher turnout than midterm election cycles — 62 percent voted in the 2008 election, 58 percent in 2012 — but 2014 was down substantially, even when compared with the last two off-year elections (41 percent voted in 2010). Measuring the motivations behind voter turnout is not an exact science. Decisions might be based on convenience or logistics — a voter might not be able to take time off work or lacks adequate transportation to make it to a polling place — or it might be a byproduct of interest-level or alienation — there might not be a competitive, high-profile contest or voters might have just lost faith in their elected officials or the electoral process. Or, as has been the case with increasing frequency in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Shelby decision, the rules may have changed enough to confuse voters or create real barriers to participation.
California: Los Angeles officials to consider ballot measures to change election years | Los Angeles Times
Can changing when Los Angeles votes reverse a long-term decline in turnout? Los Angeles lawmakers Friday are set to consider letting voters decide whether city elections should be moved to even-numbered years. The City Council has asked its lawyers to prepare two measures for the March 3 ballot aligning city and school board elections with state and federal contests. But some activists are warning that such a move could cause voter participation to decrease even more. Hans Johnson, president of the East Area Progressive Democrats, pointed to results from the June primary, which showed slightly more than 16% of L.A. voters casting ballots. That’s down 7 percentage points from the May 2013 mayoral runoff, when around 23% of voters took part. “This process is being rushed forward with a lack of review of the implications,” Johnson said.