How do you fix turnout in School Board Elections?

It is the easiest question to answer: you don’t hold the election in May. You hold it either on the primary day (this year, September 6), or during the general election.

Now, I know that education activists/advocates and those involved with the School Boards up and down our state object to that for two reasons: 1) it would politicize School Board races and make them partisan and 2) it would drown out attention to School Board races and the candidates in them when they have to compete with the bigger names on the ballot, like Governor, Senator, and President.

These are valid concerns, but the desire to increase turnout and the desire to keep school board elections non-partisan are mutually exclusive. You can’t have both. Right now, only the truly invested and knowledgeable education advocates and parents and teachers are voting in these elections. And in some ways, that’s good, even if it is an extremely low turnout. You don’t have uninformed idiot voters electing a candidate for non-education-related reasons.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

8 comments on “How do you fix turnout in School Board Elections?

  1. pandora

    “two reasons: 1) it would politicize School Board races and make them partisan and 2) it would drown out attention to School Board races and the candidates in them when they have to compete with the bigger names on the ballot”

    School board races are already politicized. The lines tend to be drawn between charter/privatization advocates and public school advocates, as well as high needs public schools and affluent public schools.

    And given the consistently dismal turn-out, I can’t imagine how moving them could further drown them out.

  2. Unstable Isotope

    Why not try vote by mail? You could send candidate statements along with the ballot to help with the voter education part of the problem,

    • cassandram

      Yes, why not use school board elections to figure out if there are better ways to vote or mobilize voters?

  3. cassandram

    The first thing is to stop the messaging that our schools and teachers are a burden somehow. When we talk about improving the business climate here, we don’t mind taking up the messaging that these are Good Investments. We have to start talking about our schools the same way. And just like businesses, each school system needs a differing level of investment. We don’t hear much about the overall good that schools should be, but we do hear a great deal about all of the problems that we need to crack down on them for. Which is mainly BS. Change the talking POV on this issue so that people believe they are participating in something good for all of us.

    Second, I am down with changing the date of school board elections to coincide with the general. Anyone who wants to tell you that school boards are currently spared politicization are selling you beachfront property in Nebraska.

  4. First Time Voter

    I voted!!!

  5. Mitch Crane

    The major obstacle to moving school board elections to the Primary or General Elections days is Registration. One does not need to be a registered voter to cast a ballot for school board. The requirement is residency. A voter need only show receipt of mail or bills at an address in the school district. School board elections are the easiest to qualify for and, interestingly enough, the turnout is proof positive that same day voter registration does not increase turnout, or we would have the highest vote for school board races. Turnout is increased when people believe there is a need to vote. The higher the office on the ballot, the higher the turnout. Making it easier for people to vote is a good thing because it should be easy, but lack of that ease is not the reason people do not vote.

  6. Why not make school board elections an online thing? With today’s technology and what would be needed to truly identify it is you voting, it is a possibility.

    • Prop Joe

      You comment is quaint in a pre-November 8, 2016 kind of way… Companion statement: If the disinformation campaigns waged by Russian troll farms in the run-up to and post-Presidential Election have taught us anything (which they haven’t),it’s that online voting would be more ripe for exploitation and manipulation than any of us can readily conceive of…

      “Today’s Technology” is clearly not moving in the direction of, nor operating in, a space meant to keep information safe and identities secure. Rather, it’s clearly moved into the realm of manipulating what is considered a fact and what is fiction, who is real and who isn’t…

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