Three Wisconsin legislators wish to move the local spring elections to the fall. The move will save money and it will increase the turnout for voters casting ballots for the school board, county board, town board, city council, and mayor.
There is a downside to scheduling local elections to coincide with the congressional, presidential and state wide races. The idea was to prevent the coattail effect from influencing local races. Wisconsin is not the only state that ensures that local elections are as far removed from the partisan state and national elections as possible. They stagger the elections from Maine to California.
There are other problems with a fall local election:
- Local candidates will be competing for the grassroots workers with congressional candidates.
- In major markets, mayoral and county board candidates will be squeezed out of the television buys. Maybe that is a good thing.
- Most important, the voters will be focused on the higher level races and ignore the candidates for mayor or school board and ignore everything from the candidates' forums to the literature.
The higher voter turnout in November is a good reason to shift the elections, saving money is not.
Too bad we do not have a better way of increasing voter participation in the spring elections.
I will be on Wisconsin Public Radio with Joy Cardin doing the Week in Review at 8:00 am this morning.