Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Star Takes My Position on Elections

One of today's Indianapolis Star editorials took my position that moving the school board elections from the Primary Election to the General Election in November would be beneficial. From the Star editorial:
Our position: Moving school board elections from May to November would help voters to have more influence on education.

Wonder if races for school board seats in Indiana should be moved from the primary period in May to the general election in November? Consider the spectacularly low voter turnout for the last round of school district elections in 2004.

Only 13 percent of voters cast ballots in races for seats on 10 Marion County school boards in May 2004, lower than the 19 percent turnout for the overall primary and four times smaller than for the general election six months later.


The fact that the elections take place during the primary in May, a time in which intraparty struggles are decided, means few voters who aren't registered as Democrats or Republicans will show up. The new media also tend to pay less attention to primary elections.

Moving school board elections from May to November would enable voters to receive more information on issues surrounding the races. They're also more likely to pay attention during the fall election cycle. And turnout is sure to be higher.

Given the importance of education, school board elections deserve a higher profile. A shift to November is overdue.

Now, if only the Star could give credit where credit is due. Here are excerpts from my April 3, 2006 press release, which was widely circulated to various columnists, reporters, and editorial staffers:

Primary Elections Are Also Open To Libertarians and Independent Voters

All voters, regardless of party, can vote on important school board seats

Fishers, IN- Turnout at Primary Elections are routinely low throughout Indiana. One reason is that Primaries are dominated by the party business of the Republicans and Democrats, marginalizing voters who aren’t true believers of those parties.

That’s too bad, because important non-partisan races for school board are a significant part of the primary ballot in many Hoosier counties, and everybody can vote for these candidates.

Libertarians and independent voters often feel marginalized by the Primary Election process. While they wish to fulfill their civic duty by voting on Primary Election Day, because they have no interest in taking a partisan Republican or Democrat ballot, these voters too often stay home.

Even with the big combined Presidential-Gubernatorial, an embarrassing 21% of registered Indiana voters turned out at the 2004 Indiana Primaries.
It’s curious that the two parties don’t use conventions more broadly to slate candidates. They will nominate some of their candidates at a statewide convention this summer, so they know how to do it.

Non-partisan school board candidates could be voted on in the General Election, eliminating the Primary Election entirely. The taxpayers would be relieved of the cost of the spring election and the free day for government employees.

Some original thoughts over at the Star's editorial board, eh? It would be nice to get just acknowledgment from the Star. Unfortunately, old media that they are, the Star is behind the trending growth and relevance of the Libertarian Party here in Indiana. Let's hope that changes soon. We are saying things a month in advance of anyone else that are wholly relevant to public policy. Why blacklist us?

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