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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Legislature considering measures to move local elections to November, allow partisanship

March 14, 2013

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— The Kansas House and Senate election committees heard testimony Thursday on bills that would move local elections to November in order for them to be held in conjunction with national general elections.

Under SB 211, the local elections, including the school board, would be partisan and held in even-numbered years. SB 145 calls for the elections to be partisan but held in odd-numbered years instead. The House bill calls for the local elections to remain non-partisan and be held in odd-numbered years.

Local elections are currently held in the spring of odd-numbered years.

Brad Bryant, deputy assistant secretary of state, testified in support of HB 2227. He said the motive behind moving the elections is to increase voter turnout.

“It’s consistent. It’s predictable,” Bryant said. “The voters would know what to expect. There would be no confusion about if there is election or when it is.”

Rep. John Alcala, D-Topeka, asked Bryant if there was any data to prove moving the date of the elections would increase turnout. Bryant said there was none.

Later, Alcala said that he thinks moving the elections to November would produce a lower voter turnout because of confusion.

However, at the hearing of SB 211 on Tuesday, Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Wichita, spoke in support of the bill saying state and local governments could save money by not requiring the polls to be open as many times a year.

Mike Taylor, director of public relations for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., testified against the bills. However, he said his main objection is to the Senate bills, which would make the elections partisan.

“City issues tend not to be partisan,” Taylor said. “They really don’t fit in with Republican and Democrat talking points. They’re more about potholes or whether we should build a community center; those are they types of issues that are talked about in those races.”

Kelly Arnold, chair of the Kansas Republican Party, submitted written testimony supporting the idea of local partisan elections because political parties encourage participation.

“Partisan designations help voters elect the person who aligns with their philosophy,” Arnold wrote. “Municipal elections are so low-key most voters don’t vote because they know nothing of the candidates.”

But Senate minority leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said on Tuesday that the partisanship portion of the Senate bills is part of a power grab by the radical right of the Republican Party to dominate all aspects of the political scene in Kansas.

“Whatever arguments they raise for increased turnout and reducing cost is just a big smoke screen to hide the fact that they are out to take over and have as much control over state and local government as they can possibly get,” Hensley said.

During the hearing on the Senate bills, Taylor, along with other opponents, spoke against SB 211 because it would require elections to be held in even-numbered years. Taylor said this means local elections would “get lost in the shuffle,” and voters would be more focused on the national issues when voting. The opposition also said it could create logistical problems with the size of the ballots.

Opponents of HB 2227 said the change of date for the local elections to November of odd-numbered years would not create much difference in turnout and would cause unnecessary problems.

“City elections have been held in the springtime since 1861,” said Don Moler with the League of Kansas Municipalities. “That’s a period of 152 years, and we believe there’s no reason to move these elections unless we can show some truly compelling reasons to do it.”

Joe Daugherty contributed to this story.

Comments

parrothead8 1 year, 6 months ago

“Partisan designations help voters elect the person who aligns with their philosophy,” Arnold wrote.

This would be true if we knew what the parties actually stood for. However, the two major parties have reduced their platforms to a handful of mere sound bites, and voters buy them based on convenience.

In reality, most people's personal philosophies don't align with either of the two major parties.

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1Dem 1 year, 6 months ago

For over thirty years the right wing republican plan has been to have complete control from the school board, the city, the county, the legislature, the state, the congress, to the White House. From city hall to the White House. I will not say conservative republican plan because conservatives then and now are not the extreme right wing which seeks control, complete control at all levels of government. This is not my opinion as I have to admit I read the plan eighteen years ago. The plan was a small group with high turnout in a lower turnout primaries could control nominees of one party and with straight party line votes could become the majority. This we have seen happen in Kansas and in other states.

Having been a Kansas resident my entire life I wonder if my home state will allow and vote for one party rule. After observing this plan in action over the past eighteen years I believe it can happen with lots of money and there is lots of money at all levels for this takeover.

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oldexbeat 1 year, 6 months ago

The Party Ist Always Right; the Party ist Always Right. Left, Right, Left, Right, The Party Is Always Right.

0

Shelley Bock 1 year, 6 months ago

There's no reason for partisanship at the municipal level. I can't see how a Republican or Democrat tag for people at the local election level could possibly help my decision making. The article said this has been the practice since 1861 so keep it that way.

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chootspa 1 year, 6 months ago

I don't think it helps much at the state or national level, either.

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1Dem 1 year, 6 months ago

Partisanship at the municipal level is not designed to help anyone with their decision making. It is to help to move to one party rule. The plan is if the nominees of the majority party can be controlled then the voters are convinced (with lots of funding) to vote for the candidates of only one party. Notice the Chamber of Commerce is backing this. I don't think you will find any Koch funded organization in opposition to this plan.

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Katara 1 year, 6 months ago

It sounds nice as a cost-saving measure but like the others have said, local elections should not be partisan. Local issues are not political party issues and should not be lumped in with that.

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1Dem 1 year, 6 months ago

Will add to my two previous posts. If interested one might ask how could a small group control who the nominee of a party is? High turnout of the small gorup in a light turnout primary. Yes, but the turnout is for your small group's candidate because you determine ahead of time the HOT BUTTON emotional issues, like abortion for some, and gun rights for others. That was what I read about some eighteen years ago. However, now additional hot button issues, like then were taxes to some and now illegal immigrants and illegal immigration. Those voters are identified by the small group and those voters contacted about their emotional issue. They turn out to vote in the primary to vote for your small group candidate. So, your group maybe 25% or even 15% of the eligible voters turnout and pick the nominee, then the effort is to get the voters to vote for your party and against the other party. When your party is the majority party or have the majority of voters high turnout of emotional voters can make the difference in the election. After over thirty years this national plan is finally successful like never before. What does this have to do with partisan local elections, the complete from the courthouse to the White House takeover. This is NOT a cost saving measure. Millions upon millions of dollars have been spent and will be spent at all levels of government so a small group on a national level with emotional single issue foot soldiers and emotional single issue voters carry the day for that small right wing group. It is not about those issues. It is about control.

2

Keith 1 year, 6 months ago

Most of the local politicians belong to one party, the Developer party.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 6 months ago

The reason for partisanship politics is for ALEC to control as many branches of government as possible by way of unlimited amounts of ALEC special interest bucks.

ALEC will not fund any candidate that deviates from their one Nazi/Facist party philosophy.

ALEC has supported Sam ALEC Brownback for several years perhaps as many as 20 years.

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oldexbeat 1 year, 6 months ago

Rigntwing nuts and Koch suckers going to take over all the school boards and city commisisons and county commissions. What will they have then -- Kansas. BFD.

But it is an example to be studied. These are not conservatives. These are corporate fascists.

Bought and paid for by Koch Brothers LLC and their propaganda arm, ALEC

“Whatever arguments they raise for increased turnout and reducing cost is just a big smoke screen to hide the fact that they are out to take over and have as much control over state and local government as they can possibly get,” Hensley said.

And why do we let Senators use state funds to go to Koch Brother ALEC meetings ? As though those were special or non-partisan?

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kernal 1 year, 6 months ago

Be mindful of the legacy you leave behind for your grandchildren, legislators.

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globehead 1 year, 6 months ago

Making local elections partisan is exactly the wrong way to go. A better approach would be to eliminate ANY designation of party affiliation form all ballots, local, state and federal. Why should taxpayer supported elections pimp any party whatsoever? Why should taxpayers fund any primary whose purpose is to determine the PARTY'S candidate. Let the parties pay for that! If someone prefers to be a democrat or republican, that's their right. But, I see no good reason to advertise for these parties on a ballot. Too many on both sides bite that party line deal, both candidates and voters. If the labels were removed, perhaps the candidate would have to stand on his/her own two feet regarding their positions and the voter would have to actually think for a change. I remember hearing a woman on talk radio once claim she would decide for whom tho vote until Rush Limbaugh gave a candidate his blessing. I' m old enough to remember Lyndon Johnson walking out of a voting booth indicating he pulled the lever for all democrats. I find both examples hideously appalling just as I find this proposed legislation.

4

Thomas Bryce 1 year, 6 months ago

Voter Apathy has allowed this to happen. When you routinely have a Third( or much less in some cases) of voters show up at the polls then you have a Minority ruling a Majority. There is really no Good excuse for not voting in this Day and Age. Some complain about the Primaries being Republican Only.Simply Register as a Republican and vote for the person or persons you feel will represent your interests the best.. All of these obstacles placed to discourage voter turnout are easily circumvented. The People Must Have the Will to Change AND Show it at the Voting Booth! Get Out and Vote People! Others have fought and Died to give YOU the Right to Choose. Honor their Memory by Voting.

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globehead 1 year, 6 months ago

VERY well put autie. I recently finished Tom Franks "The Wrecking Crew". Very depressing but I'm certain very accurate. If you haven't done so, give it a look.

1

JohnSickels 1 year, 6 months ago

I doubt this would change much in Lawrence, given the way we vote in national and state-level elections.

However, moderate/liberal local candidates in the rest of the state, who can still survive at local levels now due to retail politics and non-partisan elections, will get bulldozed by the big money boys and the rightwingers.

Many voters in rural and western Kansas voted to destroy their own communities by voting for Brownback and the legislature.

4

William Weissbeck 1 year, 6 months ago

You mean to tell me that the cities of Topeka, Wichita or Lawrence can't decide how to run their local elections in terms of whether political affiliation will limit the citizens' choice of candidates? Unless the GOP is reading a different version of any Constitution, there is no mention of political parties.

1

jhawkinsf 1 year, 6 months ago

I suspect that moving elections to November would increase turnout. I'm for it.

0

Cauac 1 year, 6 months ago

This is merely the latest in a series of colossally stupid bills brought to us by the Koch lackeys in the legislature. Consider also that a school board election in November would seat a new school board in January - smack dab in the middle of the school year. Then again maybe the idea is to disrupt educational programming as much as possible.

4

Lynn Grant 1 year, 6 months ago

This is the worst piece of legislation yet to come from the republican controlled legislature and they have come up with some pretty bad bills so far. Besides being a nightmare for county clerks, such legislation is a just a crock. As a former city council member, I didn't know the political persuasion of those I worked with and didn't care. We successfully worked for the good of the city without interference from right wing, left wing or moderates. The best suggestion I have heard was from Sen. Tyson, to move the local elections to November of odd years. Her reasoning was that we normally think of elections at that time of year so we could be aware that every November we are to vote. Local elections are grass roots politics at its best and do not need to be brought into the tempest that is partisan politics. Less government, my aunt fannie! The intention is not to increase voter turnout for the good of whatever government entity, it truly is a ploy to have a one party system in Kansas. Imagine the money that would pour in to local races from those that bought the last two elections in Kansas. Just pathetic.

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George_Braziller 1 year, 6 months ago

Hmmmmmmm. This seems to be a recurring statement from the Brownback camp. Nothing to back up the claim and can't provide any documentation, but they want it so it must be true.

"Rep. John Alcala, D-Topeka, asked Bryant if there was any data to prove moving the date of the elections would increase turnout. Bryant said there was none."

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JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 6 months ago

These dumb bastards will not be happy until they burn down our state. Kansas was always a leader in progressive and responsible government. Now, the GOP seems intent in creating a political machine in the style of Pendergast in Kansas City.

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