The Kansas House has narrowly approved a bill that moves local government elections from the spring to the fall of odd-numbered years. Republican state Representative Mark Kahrs (“cars”) says the change is about increasing voter turnout.
“Timing has everything to do with voters being more informed and therefor voting. The last thing our state needs is more disengaged voters in the democratic process,” says Kahrs.
Critics say moving local elections will force newly elected school board members to take office in the middle of a fiscal year, which would complicate the budgeting process.
Democratic Representative Kathy Wolfe Moore says national and statewide races attract attention and drive voter turnout in even-numbered years, but that may not be the case with local races.
“If we believe that magically moving them from April to November is going to stimulate a lot of interest, I just don’t think that works,” says Wolfe Moore.
Opponents argued there are better ways to increase voter turnout than moving the date of local elections. The 64-58 vote in the House sends the bill to the governor.