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A note on low-turnout, single-issue ballot elections

In this April 7th post, I pointed out that school boards like to have tax increases in special elections, where there is not much else on the ballot, so that the beneficiaries of those tax dollars, mostly school employees, will show up to vote while those who are likely to oppose the tax may not have sufficient incentive to either know about the election or to go out of their way to vote.

This past weekend, the St. Charles school tax election was held.  Of course, we received special reminders using the school’s tax-paid email and phone system.  In that election, while the bond proposal passed by about 2500 votes, only about 13% of the registered voters bothered to vote, as you can see in the statistics from the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website.  In a general election, such as the November Presidential race, the tourout would be about 5 or 6 times that level.   

 In Lafourche Parish, we had a similar school bond and tax referenda on the ballot.  The school tax item, a 2 mill property tax increase, passed by just 201 votes with only 6.7% of the registered voters turning out.  Think about how many of those 1983 voters who voted for the tax were school employees voting to transfer funds from the house values of others to their workplace.  I bet Lafourche Parish School Board also used tax-paid communication systems to remind their employees to vote.

The problem is that the school boards get to place their tax increases on special ballots, when nothing much else is on the ballot, increasing the chance that their proposal passes.  

What is wrong with that, you may ask?  Imagine a school that gets to choose their homefield for games they play, so that it is easier to get their supporters into the stands and harder for the oppositions’ supporters to get there.  Choosing a time to your advantage is really just like choosing the place.

When the fact that an election is being held is hardly publicized and then held on days when people only have one low-interest item to vote for, the opposition hardly has a fair chance against an a public body that has a tax-payer funded advantage in getting out the vote.

-MC

3 Responses to “A note on low-turnout, single-issue ballot elections”

  1. ALM says:

    Its obvious that these tactics are used in reference to dictate funding. It is really about “money”. If voter’s are unaware of the laws or proposals, they are not going to go out and vote. Therefore, with these types of unknown agendas, which are purposely set up, it decreases the voter turn out and will generally get the proposal passed. In the example with the football game, the home team set up games that would generate more supporters. With the increase in supporters, there is an increase in tickets sales. Fortunately, this will create an increase in the profit for the school. Again, “money” is priority not the football game. This is the same tactic used in the voting process to get certain proposals passed

  2. CajunPatriot says:

    MC wrote accurately and pointedly about recent school board tax elections. We would not have heard about the election if we had not gone to the registrar’s office to make needed changes on our registration to vote. In our inquiry with fellow Thibodaux residents, we found none knew about the special election, none knew about the issues, and none understood that the school board could do exactly what MC described: “Think about how many of those 1983 voters who voted for the tax were school employees voting to transfer funds from the house values of others to their workplace. I bet Lafourche Parish School Board also used tax-paid communication systems to remind their employees to vote.”

    Is there an organized opposition to this cronyism? One director of a new charter school in Thibodaux has many members of her family receiving their salaries from the taxpayers by working for the Lafourche Parish school board or other tax payer support for their careers/jobs. It seems just like Dr. MC stated, those who have vested interests in tax increases to maintain or expand their power or income, vote. Those of us who do not know about or are not suffiently motivated by the special school board election do not vote, but pay for all the others with vested interests. What a wonderful scam! Keep it up Lafourche and you will see you will eventually confirm the reputation that Louisiana once had: “The best policiticans that money could buy!”

  3. LC says:

    I dont agree with how they set up the voting. I dont think it is right for them to do the voting with out tell all the people about it. Of course all the school employess turn out to vote because they want the tax money but what about the others on the ballet? It is very unfair that they have to do it this way to get money.

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