NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, June 28th, 2023

Happening today: NPI’s Even Year Elections For All panel convenes at Netroots Nation ’23

Today, our team at NPI is hon­ored to be orga­niz­ing an online-only pan­el at Net­roots Nation 2023 titled “Even-Year Elec­tions For All: How U.S. Local­i­ties are Rais­ing Vot­er Turnout.” If you’re reg­is­tered for Net­roots Nation, we’d love to have you in the audi­ence for this dis­cus­sion; if not and you’d like to par­tic­i­pate in the pan­el, here’s the link to reg­is­ter for Net­roots Nation 2023!

Join­ing me to dis­cuss how a sim­ple tim­ing change can sig­nif­i­cant­ly raise and diver­si­fy turnout in local elec­tions are Kathay Feng of Cal­i­for­nia Com­mon Cause, Pro­fes­sor Zoltan Haj­nal of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia San Diego, G. Agustin Markar­i­an of Loy­ola Uni­ver­si­ty Chica­go, and Chelsea Castel­lano of Amer­i­ca Votes.

The syn­op­sis of our pan­el is as follows:

In many places across the U.S., we have a big turnout prob­lem in odd year local elec­tions. Fatigued vot­ers sim­ply aren’t show­ing up to cast bal­lots, result­ing in impor­tant local posi­tions like may­or get­ting cho­sen by a small­er, old­er, whiter, and wealth­i­er elec­torate. We know elec­tions are fair­er and more mean­ing­ful when they include as many of us as pos­si­ble. That’s why a grow­ing move­ment has been work­ing to switch America’s local­i­ties to even year elec­tions. With a sim­ple tim­ing change, we can both dra­mat­i­cal­ly raise and diver­si­fy vot­er turnout in local elec­tions. Join us for a dis­cus­sion high­light­ing the 13 of 13 suc­cess­ful even-year bal­lot mea­sures that passed in 2022 and strate­gies for bring­ing even-year elec­tions to more localities.

Fol­low this link to meet the pan­el.

NPI and the Coali­tion for Even-Year Elec­tions orga­nized one of those thir­teen suc­cess­ful even year elec­tions bal­lot mea­sures men­tioned in the syn­op­sis: King Coun­ty Char­ter Amend­ment 1. In the span of a year, we pulled Char­ter Amend­ment 1 togeth­er with the help of Coun­cilmem­bers Clau­dia Bal­duc­ci and Gir­may Zahi­lay, got it sub­mit­ted to the vot­ers, and ran a cam­paign sup­port­ing it that earned over 69% of the vote with no orga­nized opposition.

Char­ter Amend­ment 1 is now being imple­ment­ed. Six of twelve King Coun­ty posi­tions affect­ed by the amend­ment (Elec­tions Direc­tor, Asses­sor, and four Coun­cil) will be vot­ed on in an odd year for the last time this August and/or Novem­ber. The next time these posi­tions come up will be in 2026, an even year, due to the terms being short­ened to a three-year dura­tion one time.

In 2025, the posi­tions of Exec­u­tive and five Coun­cil will then be vot­ed on in an odd year for the last time, and they too will switch over to even years begin­ning in 2028, the next pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cycle. As a con­se­quence, there will be hun­dreds of thou­sands of more vot­ers decid­ing who our lead­ers should be.

Our team is now work­ing on leg­is­la­tion to allow Wash­ing­ton cities to move their elec­tions to even years if they’d like. Our bill, spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Javier Valdez, had a suc­cess­ful hear­ing in the 2023 leg­isla­tive ses­sion and is now parked in the Sen­ate Rules Com­mit­tee. Bills from odd-num­bered year ses­sions car­ry over to even-year ones, so when the Leg­is­la­ture recon­venes in 2024, we’ll be back at it, work­ing to get this bill to Gov­er­nor Inslee’s desk so that cities gain the free­dom to decide when to hold their elec­tions, as cities in oth­er states already can.

We’re real­ly hap­py to have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to bring togeth­er lead­ers from sev­er­al dif­fer­ent states to talk about how this nation­al move­ment is find­ing suc­cess in every region of the coun­try. Even-year elec­tions are one of those rare ideas that have have robust cross-ide­o­log­i­cal sup­port in high­ly polar­ized times.

Most Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers, Repub­li­can vot­ers, and inde­pen­dent vot­ers across the coun­try favor sim­pli­fy­ing our sys­tem of elec­tions to reduce elec­tion fatigue and align local elec­tions with state and fed­er­al elections.

Their enthu­si­asm isn’t always shared by elec­tions offi­cials and leg­is­la­tors, though. That’s one of the things we’ll be talk­ing about dur­ing today’s pan­el. Data con­firms that many of the con­cerns oppo­nents have about even-year elec­tions for local­i­ties are unfound­ed, but aware­ness of that data can be lacking.

For­tu­nate­ly, this is a solv­able prob­lem. Dur­ing our pan­el, we’ll share best prac­tices for how to ini­ti­ate and con­tin­ue a dia­logue with elect­ed offi­cials who aren’t yet con­vinced of the mer­its of this vot­ing jus­tice reform. Again, here’s the link to reg­is­ter for Net­roots Nation 2023 if you’d like to attend this and oth­er great ses­sions!

Adjacent posts

  • Enjoyed what you just read? Make a donation

    Thank you for read­ing The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s jour­nal of world, nation­al, and local politics.

    Found­ed in March of 2004, The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate has been help­ing peo­ple through­out the Pacif­ic North­west and beyond make sense of cur­rent events with rig­or­ous analy­sis and thought-pro­vok­ing com­men­tary for more than fif­teen years. The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate is fund­ed by read­ers like you and trust­ed spon­sors. We don’t run ads or pub­lish con­tent in exchange for money.

    Help us keep The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate edi­to­ri­al­ly inde­pen­dent and freely avail­able to all by becom­ing a mem­ber of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute today. Or make a dona­tion to sus­tain our essen­tial research and advo­ca­cy journalism.

    Your con­tri­bu­tion will allow us to con­tin­ue bring­ing you fea­tures like Last Week In Con­gress, live cov­er­age of events like Net­roots Nation or the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion, and reviews of books and doc­u­men­tary films.

    Become an NPI mem­ber Make a one-time donation

  • NPI’s essential research and advocacy is sponsored by: