Democratic self-government is one of the most cherished principles of Americans everywhere. Michigan citizens regularly participate in electing their president, members of Congress, governor, and other officials. But one election that most Michiganians miss is their local school election.

Michigan school board and school finance elections have some of the lowest voter turnout rates of any elections. In April 1995, one millage election in Jackson County drew only 5 out of 1,500 eligible voters to the polls.

One explanation for this abysmal participation is confusion. Michigan school districts can call an election every six months, and often the election is held in different months every year on different days and at different polling stations.

Voter turnout could be increased and valuable education dollars saved if Michigan school elections were consolidated to appear on the November general election ballot, when a larger cross section of citizens knows to come to the polls to decide issues and elect officials.

Ballot issues affecting Michigan children’s education are too important to leave to a tiny and nonrepresentative minority of voters. Michigan school elections should be moved to the November ballot to ensure that the people truly have their say.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Catherine Martin.

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