Move school elections to general election day

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: January 16 2013 | 11:20 am - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 10:08 am in

By Sioux City Journal

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All of the recent local discussion about whether to include the seat of appointed school board member John Meyers in a special Western Iowa Tech Community College election next month got us thinking about a subject we have discussed in this space before.

No useful purpose is served by holding school elections in Iowa on days other than general election day. Itís an outdated practice the Legislature should change. After all, electing school board members on general election day works just fine in Nebraska.

In fact, we advocate all special elections be moved to general election day, if for no other reason than saving taxpayers money (for example, even given steps taken by the Woodbury County Auditorís Office to minimize the cost, next monthís special election will run up a tab of about $20,000).

By moving school elections from September to general election day in November, counties not only would save money, but the greater voter turnout these important elections deserve would be guaranteed. The abysmal voter turnout we typically see for school elections in Sioux City, for example, isnít commensurate with the responsibilities vested in our Board of Education.

Given the training, expertise, technology and experience available to auditors today, this change could be implemented with relative ease. Greater use of absentee ballots would mitigate whatever concerns might exist about lengthier, more complicated ballots creating longer lines at polling places.

Itís a complete mystery to us why this didnít happen many years ago.

Moving school and special elections to general election day requires action by the Legislature. We urge state lawmakers to take the necessary steps.

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