With pensions and tax reform and a super-tight budget cycle, among other concerns, there’s one proposal before the Kentucky General Assembly this year that may not be the most exciting thing on the agenda, but I think it’s one of the most important.
In her excellent legislative update, which you can read on page A-8, 82nd District State Rep. Regina Huff briefly outlines the proposal, HB 23, that would move the election of the state’s constitutional officers, including the governor, to even-numbered years. This would coincide with the election for U.S. President.
I’ve wondered for years why Kentucky has this odd-year, outlier election. Voter turnout is bad enough in the most heated of contested of elections. We are lucky, as a society, if 50 percent of registered voters bother to turn out at the polls at all. When we get 55 percent or so, we celebrate like it’s a big accomplishment.
I think part of it can be chalked up to the fact that we have one of the least representative democracies available from the smorgasbord of options. That kind of system tends to depress voter turnout anyway.
We know that mid-term elections — those that occur when there is not presidential race on the ballot — are typically lower turnout affairs anyway. But to have elections in an odd year when there aren’t even any midterms means VERY few people end up electing the person who serves as our Governor, and Secretary of State, and Attorney General, and so on.
That’s not good.
Huff claims that aligning these elections with the Presidential race will also save taxpayers roughly $14 million. That’s a healthy pile of cheddar!
Since we are having an election anyway, it’s much easier to add more candidates to an already existing ballot. The more elections we have, the costlier it becomes. Poll workers have to be paid. Election machines inspected. There’s cost of materials. It goes on and on.
Hopefully, it will increase participation in our elections as well.
Huff seems to indicate she’s in favor of the proposal. I hope it passes, and I hope when it gets to the ballot voters approve it as well. It’s a common sense move that is not only more efficient, but better for our democracy.