Clerks: School elections waste money

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A coalition of Michigan county clerks is pushing to eliminate May school board elections, claiming they are a waste of money, given the typically low voter turnout, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

Rather than paying for separate elections, clerks said that school districts could save money by adding their trustee races to the primary or general elections already held in August or November, The Press reported.

A coalition of lawmakers has introduced legislation to mandate such a change, and the Senate Fiscal Agency has estimated the shift could save $7 million per election cycle, according to The Press. Schools could continue to hold bond or millage elections at other times.

Opponents said that the school board race would get "lost" among all the other municipal, state and federal races on the general election ballot, The Press reported. One district official also said there is no guarantee that more people would actually vote in the school contest, because some people stop voting before reaching the end of the ballot, The Press reported.

Based on turnout figures for the May 2009 school election in Kent and surrounding counties, the cost ranged from $5.66 to $11 for each person who cast a ballot, The Press reported.

The Grand Rapids Press, "Should school board elections be moved to coincide with regular elections?" March 30, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Tracking union money in school board elections," November 14, 2007