Who cares about reducing costs and increasing voter turnout? Clearly not the Austin City Council. They voted to keep their elections in May, despite the chance to increase voter turnout and save money. The Austin school district, on the other hand, is casting their vote with the taxpayers.

The Austin City Council voted 4-3 to keep their elections in May, despite the obvious
savings to taxpayers. According to the Austin American Statesman, The city would spend about $2 million by keeping the elections in May 2012, compared to the $900,000 they would spend by moving it to November 2012.

What’s even more appalling to taxpayers is that the council made this decision knowing it would be forced to cover the extra cost from a reserve fund – only $791,000 was budgeted for a May 2012 election.

But even putting aside the fiscal costs, keeping the elections in May shows that the city council is unresponsive to voter concerns.

A poll released last week shows that 75 percent of likely Austin voters support moving the elections to November, and understandably so. Those voting in November are already making decisions on key federal, state and county issues. The convenience of also deciding who will represent them and what projects they support at the municipal level would far outweigh any additional burden of more decision-making.

The Austin ISD Board of Trustees did move their elections to November, perhaps after sensing the disappointment of Austin voters regarding their city officials. Here is what school board President Mark Williams had to say:

“This will substantially increase voter turnout and significantly reduce cost for the district. There’s benefits in increasing access to voters, and part of a public school district is public involvement.”

What does that say when even Austin ISD realizes it’s a no-brainer?

Whatever the Austin City Council was thinking was definitely not in the interest of taxpayers or increasing the electoral participation. Let’s hope voters remember that next May.

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