It seems that Solano County wants its local governments to hold their elections in even-numbered years. Why? It could save money, says Supervisors Spering and Vasquez (Feb. 23, “Fairfield-Suisun School District to consider even-year elections”). It could also mean more voters, as records show that more people vote in even-numbered years when state and federal offices are on the ballot.
Surveys reveal that more and more people are getting weary of uninspiring or unknown candidates, ballots that are three and four pages long, and propositions that defy understanding. They are simply not voting.
Imagine what the ballot will look like if many local governments move their elections to even-numbered years. We will see candidates for state and federal elections. Then will come candidates for two or three city council seats, three or four school trustee seats, two or three county supervisors and none of these offices have the same geographic boundaries. Finally, come a handful of state propositions and local measures. Each voting precinct will likely have to deal with a half-dozen or more different ballots.
And, heaven forbid, we have errors like the two last November, costing $20,000 to $30,000 to reprint ballots. There go the projected savings!
Just today, we got a spreadsheet tabulating costs for local governments (including school districts) under various combinations of some agencies going to even-numbered years and some not. It’s a pretty fancy piece of number-crunching. Just one problem: It’s unlikely to happen.
I think a better approach would be to hold all local elections in odd-numbered years. We would avoid the distraction of state and federal contests, and be more inclined to study local issues closely because they affect us.
So, do we just want more voters? Or do we want voters who understand what they’re doing?
Bottom line, this proposal has not been well thought out. Our local governing bodies don’t really understand the impacts. They would be wise to defer a decision until they do.