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Consolidating Municipal Elections – Yes or No?

| Blog | October 8, 2013


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Will Consolidating Municipal Elections Save Taxpayers Money?

A recent study by the Greenlining Institute says that consolidating elections would raise overall turnout, reduce costs and turnout a more representative group of voters.

There study says that off-year municipal elections reduce voter turnout and result in small numbers of voters from minority groups who vote on election day. They also found that local elections which occur at different times than state and federal elections raises costs to taxpayers. There study suggests that holding municipal elections and state and federal elections at the same time would increase voter turnout and reduce the cost to taxpayers. Additionally, the voters who turned out to vote would be better representation of the overall population.

RESEARCH BRIEF: By Greenling Institute

Download Odd-Year vs. Even-Year Consolidated Elections in California  Download

public policy instituteIn a political system based on an informed and active citizenry, low and declining participation rates are a great concern. Indeed, increasing those rates may be the most important policy challenge of the early 21st century. But what are the most practical ways to meet that challenge? In this report, Zoltan Hajnal, Paul Lewis, and Hugh Louch offer a detailed description of local turnout patterns and analyze the factors associated with high and low participation rates. Their results indicate that about half the difference in voter turnout across California cities can be traced to a single factor—election timing. Noting that Progressive Era reformers instituted off-cycle local elections, and that one-third of California’s cities continue to hold them, the authors calculate how many more citizens would vote in local elections that coincided with state and national contests.

The policy solution in this case seems clear enough. If low turnout for local contests is the problem, concurrent elections are a big step in the right direction. This simple change is unlikely to banish political apathy, but it will significantly increase the likelihood that citizens will make their voices heard on local issues.

Download the report hereDownload

Greenlining’s 2013 Economic Summit Keynote Address: Van Jones
Following a welcome from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, former White House aide and Rebuild the Dream founder Van Jones kicked things off with an exhilarating keynote address. He joined Greenlining’s call to protect the revenues from California’s new cap-and-trade program, which are supposed to be used to reduce carbon emissions, with a major portion going to low-income, highly polluted communities. Jones called Gov. Brown’s proposal to borrow that money for the state general fund “a terrible blemish on his record.” In his usual pull-no-punches style, Jones added, “”You can’t steal from poor people and the planet and get away with it in California.”

Proposition D: Consolidating Odd-Year Municipal Elections San Francisco Passes 83.2% of the vote
Proposition D was a Charter Amendment that would change the election cycle for City Attorney and Treasurer so that these officers would be selected at the same time as the Mayor, Sheriff and District Attorney, beginning in 2015. will save the County Over $4 million dollars.

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