Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is calling for partisan local elections after the move from spring to fall didn't boost turnout as much as many had hoped.
In a series of tweets, Secretary of State Kris Kobach said average voter turnout statewide in November’s municipal elections rose about 4 percent compared to similar elections in 2013. He would have liked to see it at 20 percent or higher.
Another option that would increase turnout would be to move local elections from the fall of odd-numbered years to the fall of even-numbered years where they would piggyback on federal and state elections which consistently see higher turnout.
— Kris W. Kobach (@KrisKobach1787) January 10, 2018
In Sedgwick County, about 8 percent of registered voters cast ballots, up from 6 percent in 2013.
Kobach presented an update on fall municipal elections to the House Elections Committee this week. One way to increase turnout, he says, would be to hold local elections--for offices such as city councils--on a partisan basis. It's not a new idea: Lawmakers have tried unsuccessfully to push for in the past.
Currently, individual cities in Kansas can decide to hold partisan elections, though most, if not all, opt for nonpartisan.
Kobach also suggested moving local elections from the fall of odd-numbered years to the fall of even-numbered years, in line with state and federal elections.
The Kansas Legislature voted in 2015 to move local elections from the spring to the fall in hopes that it would boost voter turnout, which in many areas of Kansas, it did.
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