While local debt has exploded in the past few years, Texans are having less of a say thanks to bureaucratic meddling.
Just as an experienced and unscrupulous card dealer can stack the deck in his favor, local officials and their henchmen can do the same with elections by something as simple as changing the date.
With a legitimate fear that voters will not approve their bloated wish lists and expensive pipe dreams, local governments often try to reduce participation in elections by holding them at bizarre times.
These efforts cost taxpayers substantially more money on the front-end, as election costs are not shared by the other governments who are also holding elections.
Few examples are more egregious than the 2016 tax ratification election (TRE) in Midland. There, Midland ISD trustees ran a special-election one month before the November election. The unnecessary move cost taxpayers an additional $30,000-$50,000.
Additionally, holding lone-wolf elections outside of traditional election dates results in substantially lower turnout, with many citizens not knowing that an election is ongoing.
The lower the turnout, the greater the voting strength of those who always know when an election is being held—typically government employees, who reap the benefits of the proposals, can often be relied upon to rubber stamp the proposal no matter what.
Indeed, many observers of the process have found that hosting elections at times other than the uniform dates of May and November pushes everyday citizens out of the process. A study done by the Texas Legislature found:
“Current election law allows an exception to the uniform date requirement for school and college districts to hold elections to levy taxes or issue bonds. These elections are costly to taxpayers and often are not well publicized and have low voter turnout, which tends to restrict participation to those with a vested interest in approving the bonds.”
To ensure maximum voter participation, legislators should require all elections (excluding primaries) be conducted on the November ballot. At the very least, no tax ratification election or bond proposal should ever be held on a date outside of the May or November uniform election dates already in place for officeholder elections.
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