Why Change Kansas School Board Elections?
Over 200 locally elected boards of education in Kansas (more than 2/3) have passed resolutions against moving elections to the fall and making them partisan. These board members govern what Governor Brownback
called the “5th best schools in the country” and spend less than any state
ranked higher in student achievement. What are we trying to fix?
Last year the Kansas Legislature passed a law that required
mail ballots in school district Local Option Budget elections. Kansas
election officials estimate that mail ballots can increase voter participation
by a factor of three (300 percent). No legislation to try mail ballots for local
elections has been forwarded this year. Why aren’t we considering this fix?
Some party politicians in Topeka are pushing hard for moving
school board elections from the spring of odd numbered years to the fall of
even numbered years. According to the last KASB membership survey, nearly
70 percent of school board members self-identify as Republicans compared to 45 percent of the
general electorate. What are we trying to change?
The Kansas Secretary of State has lobbied to move school
board elections to the fall of even numbered years and to make them partisan to
increase voter turnout. The Kansas Secretary of State has also argued
that voter fatigue causes significant ballot drop-off and therefore Kansans
need a straight party ballot. He testified that the drop-off from
president to national senate and congressional votes is over 60,000 votes. What about voter fatigue?
Many Kansas elections are decided in the primary. In
2014, 50 Kansas House of Representatives candidates ran unopposed in the
general election. Voter turnout in primary elections last year was about
20 percent. Thirty percent of Kansans are not affiliated with a party and are
excluded from voting in primaries. Does
focusing on primary elections increase turnout or exclude voters?
Please contact your legislator and ask these questions now! A bill is awaiting consideration right now. Act today! Call Your Representative and Senator!