California: Opponents of L.A. election date measures worry only special interests will benefit | MyNewsLA

Opponents of two Los Angeles ballot measures calling for city and school district elections to be held in the same years as gubernatorial and presidential races were joined by several City Council candidates at City Hall Monday to make a final push against the measures. While billed as a way to improve voter turnout, Charter Amendment 1 and Charter Amendment 2 would only benefit deep-pocketed special interests like billboard companies and developers, who are major supporters of the measures, according to Hans Johnson of the group Save Our City Elections. The measures would “tip the playing field dramatically in favor of” special interests that “want a stronger hand in picking winners and losers in our nonpartisan races,” Johnson said, with voter engagement actually decreasing because candidates and local issues for city elections would be buried at the bottom of lengthy ballots and mostly ignored.

Kansas: Senate elections chairman wants law changes to dilute teacher vote | The Wichita Eagle

The chairman of the state Senate elections committee said Thursday that one of the reasons he wants to move school board and city elections from spring to fall is to dilute the voting power of teachers in low-turnout elections. A spokesman for the state’s largest teachers union said it’s ridiculous to think teachers, who are often in conflict with their school boards, are controlling those elections. Sen. Mitch Holmes, R-St. John, said he wants to reduce teachers unions’ influence in local elections in a news release on a bill he’s calling the “Help Kansas Vote Act.” Holmes, chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, introduced the bill in his committee Thursday. “The teachers unions do not want to give up the majority they currently enjoy in low turnout, off-cycle elections,” Holmes said in his release. “But this act is not about protecting incumbency or special interest groups, it is about giving community members representation in local issues.” Holmes did not return a message seeking comment.

New Mexico: House Democrat aims to lower voting age for school elections to 16; bill may face GOP opposition | The Santa Fe New Mexican

A freshman legislator introduced a bill Wednesday that would give 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote in school board elections, but it likely faces an uphill fight. Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, said in an interview that he wants to expand the pool of voters to improve historically low turnouts in school elections. Just as important, he said, the bill would allow more high school students to have a voice in the body of government that affects them most. Martinez, a 33-year-old lawyer, said he didn’t have a sense of whether his bill would have a chance in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. But, Martinez said, House Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro, has stressed bipartisanship, and this bill should appeal to most everyone.

Editorials: Party insiders would be big winners if Los Angeles switches election timing | Bernard C. Parks/Los Angeles Times

f two charter amendments headed to Los Angeles voters March 3 get approved, it will make it next to impossible for candidates who aren’t party insiders, or the darlings of labor or business interests, to run for and win city office in L.A. Charter Amendment 1 and Charter Amendment 2 would move city and school board elections to June and November in even years from March and May in odd years to coincide with state and federal elections. The professed goal is to increase voter turnout, but I believe that’s a smokescreen. The proposals miss that objective while tilting the playing field in favor of special interests and in ways detrimental to good representation for residents. First, there’s turnout. Higher turnout alone doesn’t necessarily mean a higher percentage of voters who are engaged and knowledgeable on local races and issues. Besides, voter turnout in three of our last four odd-year city elections for mayor actually exceeded the even-year turnout, which has been especially weak in primary elections. Yet primaries are where most of our local elections get decided (over that period, 78% of City Council and school-board elections were determined in primaries). So the promise of voter turnout rings false.

North Carolina: Off-Year Elections Cost Mecklenburg County $450,000 | WSOC Charlotte

Election day is a week from Tuesday. It’s an odd-numbered year, so that means city and school board races only. Odd numbered years usually get low turnout, but still cost taxpayers a lot of money. Mecklenburg County election officials said turnout for odd-numbered years can be as low as 20 percent. But they say it still costs as much as $450,000 to pull off city and school board elections. That’s more than $3.50 per vote.

WSOC asked Catawba College professor Michael Bitzer why the state doesn’t hold the city and school board races on even years, with the Presidential, Congressional, Gubernatorial, General Assembly, and county election as a way to possibly boost turnout and save tax dollars. Bitzer said maybe the state will one day. He also said some people may worry that city and school board elections will get overshadowed if they have to compete with the bigger races.
“Unlike in a Presidential year where you’ve got a bombard of campaign advertisement — big time issues. That really kind of sucks the air out of local issues,” said Bitzer.

Montana: As Lovaas Sues For Voter Fraud, Investigation Finds No Wrongdoing | NBCMontana

The Missoula County Attorney’s and Sheriff’s departments say that after a thorough investigation, they have no reason to believe fraud took place in the May school elections. The announcement comes just a few weeks after a local accountant filed suit over the vote results.

“I have come to the conclusion that there is no basis to charge anyone with any criminal offense,” County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg said. According to Van Valkenburg, a technical glitch affected after-the-fact voting reports — like the one that led Patty Lovaas to believe the election had been rigged –making it appear that some votes were counted more than once. “They were never counted toward the election, and therefore this was simply a problem with how the software ran reports,” Van Valkenburg said.