Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

An End to Irregular Elections

Posted by Adam Graham on June 19, 2007

Many anti-Federalists declared during the founding era that where annual elections ends, tyranny begins. Well, let’s revise that when elections can be called whenever people want, tyranny begins as Rep. Marv Hagedorn notes:

I recently received a letter from a concerned and upset citizen of Meridian regarding our elections. She was livid, as were many, about the fact that there were 3 local elections and all three had different election voting locations and one was on a different day than the other two. The elections I’m referring to were the Community College, a school bond and a new Library bond… and the voting process for each were held in different locations and 1 of the 3 on different days within a couple weeks!

While I was voting in the Library during that bond election, a gentleman came in and really dressed down the ladies working the election regarding why “they” were doing it again and not letting anyone know about the bond election AGAIN.

He was telling them that “because the last one failed, they were trying to pull a fast one and getting only those who were for the new bond to vote by only letting them know”. I hung around to make sure that the gentleman didn’t get out of hand with the ladies and wished that this type of thing wouldn’t happen… but I’m afraid it does and has all over the state. Folks are getting frustrated and apathetic towards a system that doesn’t seem to represent or reflect their desires. Sadly, this apathy causes fewer and fewer of us to go to the polls…

There were several bills introduced to remedy this problem as Rep. Hagadorn explained, but the most important may have been one restricting the number of elections:

House bill H0196 was passed in the House that would have consolidated all of the elections to two days per year and limited the number of elections that could be scheduled per year. Recognizing that when a bond election fails, it seems to take little time for supporters to get another scheduled, this bill required that limits were placed on these types of elections. If you take a look at the bill, you will be able to see the details of the changes, but for a summary look at the bottom of the bill.

H0196 was sent to the Senate for discussion and vote, but was put in a drawer and left there….

Arguments against the bill were that districts like sewer, water, irrigation, schools and others would have to move their place of election and coordinate with the Secretary of State in scheduling their bond elections. And it was argued that the timing of the elections would not work with the timing of the districts scheduled budgeting process… in my mind these seemed to be weak arguments for maintaining the current system.

Indeed, with many pushing for vote by mail to increase voter turnout, it seems odd that we tolerate a system that leaves so many on the outside looking in. School board elections are a great example. The vote for school board here in Boise is held in August or September, and about 3% of the people decide who gets to represent them. I think voting twice a year is enough and when we have a situation when folks can call election whenever they have a mind to, we make a joke of representative government.

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