Two Statehouse bills in the last legislative session that would have prevented a recurrence of a one-candidate special congressional primary — which cost taxpayers more than $340,800 — didn’t have the time for the Ohio House to take action. Now similar bills will be introduced by next month in the new legislative session. “That’s a lot of money for an uncontested race,” said Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton, who will jointly sponsor a new bill with Ohio Rep. Dorothy Pelanda. Retherford attempted to introduce a similar bill last year, but Pelanda’s was introduced first. Pelanda, R-Marysville, called that “a very unique circumstance” and introduced a bill just days after Ohio Sen. Frank LaRose, R-Hudson introduced a similar bill.
Control of the Iowa Senate is up for grabs this fall. Democrats currently have a 26-24 majority, a meager margin Republicans are eager to erase. Given the circumstances, you’d expect both parties to press hard to win every available seat. But that’s not the case. Half the Senate seats are up in November, but in nine of the 25 contests, one of the major parties hasn’t bothered fielding a candidate. That’s more common than you might think. When filing deadlines had passed in the first 27 states this year, one party or the other had failed to run candidates in nearly half the legislative seats — 45 percent, according to Ballotpedia, an online politics site that tracks races and ballot initiatives. Nearly all incumbents can rest easy in Georgia, because 80 percent of the races there will be uncontested. In recent years, it’s been common for a third to 40 percent of state legislative seats to lack major party competition. It’s even worse during primary seasons, meaning legislators win re-election simply by showing up. In the four states that held legislative elections last year, 56 percent of the races went uncontested in the fall.
Nearly half of Louisiana’s state lawmakers have won re-election to new four-year terms without having to campaign, when no one signed up this week to challenge them. Twenty of 39 senators and 49 of 105 House members drew no opponents during the three-day candidate registration period that ended Thursday. Their names won’t appear on the Oct. 24 ballot because they were deemed “elected unopposed.” One unopposed House candidate who will take office in January has never served in the Legislature. Secretary of State Tom Schedler said he was stunned how many officials around Louisiana were elected automatically when no one qualified to run against them, about 43 percent of the 1,150 offices on the ballot statewide. He called it an “astounding figure” and cited continued voter apathy, locally and nationally.
What if there was an election and no one showed up to vote – not even the candidates themselves? That’s precisely what happened in the recent Hagerman school board election. Three candidates ran unopposed: None received a single vote, not even their own. It was a lack of opposition and not a lack of interest in education that kept the town’s 1,034 eligible voters away from the polls, said Superintendent Ricky Williams, who supervises the three-school district of fewer than 500 students. The fact that the candidates were unopposed – and that the election was held in Roswell 26 miles away – may have had something to do with it, he said. Polling stations were not open in the southeast New Mexico community, a decision made by Chaves County.
Voting Blogs: Pricey Tuesday? New Pew Dispatch Highlights Cost of Uncontested Elections | Election Academy
With the year-end holiday season underway, we are in the midst of a series of days marketed to consumers as unofficial shopping days: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Buyers on these days are looking to save money and make cost-effective purchases for everyone on their gift list. These shoppers likely wouldn’t flock to the deals offered in a new Pew Election Data Dispatch examining the high cost of uncontested elections. The Dispatch looks at (and links to) several stories of where localities were forced to spend funds on elections where the winner was already clear: