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Defending the Electoral College and the Constitution since 2009

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How weird election dates benefit insiders

All of the research backs up common sense: combining local elections with state and national elections increases voter participation. And lots of people claim to want that—so why doesn’t it happen? The answer is that insiders benefit from weird election dates that lead to low voter turnout.

Consider a school board election held on a Thursday in February. Who cares most about that election, and is sure to have all the information about how to vote, as well as being given time off from their employer? School district employees. Other potential voters may never even hear that there is an election. The same thing is true for other local offices—employees and others with a direct interest in the outcome will be dramatically overrepresented.

A study found that weird election dates mean “a small and unrepresentative set of residents is determining who gets elected.” That isn’t right, but it’s easy to fix. State legislatures are in charge of state and local elections, and can set the dates to make it easier for more voters to participate. The best way to do that is to combine election dates—local, state, and federal. This will make elections more representative of all voters.