Certainly I’ve railed against odd year spring elections more than a few times and some of you are probably rolling your eyes now…but after having 6% turnout in the February primary this year…we may only have low 20% turnout on Tuesday in the spring general election. A waste of money and a slap in the face to earnest candidates who work hard to get the votes needed to reach their goal.

But here is a brief quote from Alan Borsuk’s weekly education column from the Sunday March 31 edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:


Amy Mizialko has been going door to door many evenings lately, talking up candidates in the Milwaukee School Board elections this Tuesday.


What has Mizialko, the president of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association, been hearing? Foremost is that not many people know there are school board races underway.

April elections in odd-numbered years are always low-turnout affairs.

“…. not many people know there are school board races underway.” That is pretty certainly a predictor that once again there will be low voter turnout. And school boards are pretty vital when public education is under fire and when public education isn’t getting the job done. Who serves on the board should be of critical interest to the voting public.

This lack of knowledge isn’t a result of lack of engagement on the part of the candidates. I have had calls or mailings or surrogates at my door for the school board particularly and from the state Supreme Court race as well. I have seen candidates at events. There have been forums for the school board race. The local media has done an outstanding job this time around of covering the races. So I am going to blame the out of the expected cycle of elections…we need to move these elections to the even year cycles so that the candidates get the attention they deserve and so the positions get more voters involved.

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4 Responses to Another Case Against Odd Year Spring Elections

  1. Charles Kuehn says:

    I suspect local Powers that Be like it just the way it is exactly because of that low turnout effect.

  2. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    Local elections are fine for April elections in odd years, as long as they are regularly done that way (like in Madison).

    But statewide elections like School Superintendent and Supreme Court and statewide amendments should be in November of even years, like any other statewide elected office.

    • Charles Kuehn says:

      I agree with most of your points. My major point is that local power structures prefer the oddball election times because they protect the entrenched and shield the status quo from some newcomer with good ideas and popular appeal, who might just shake things up if elected.

    • Ed Heinzelman says:

      They are done regularly so that’s not the problem. But they have low turnouts. Like I said previously the local primary had a 6% turnout. That is no way to run a democracy. And the GOP was worried about election costs…so running a full room of election officials and voting machines for 6% turnout is a waste of time and money. Now Supreme Court is in the spring because traditionally all non-partisan elections are in the spring. But there is no reason that they have to be odd year spring elections. It is an insult to candidates to experience small turn out…it skews the elections. People are used to even year elections.

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