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
Ballot issues affecting Michigan childrens 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.