The city of Charleston must find more money to throw at its unfunded pension plans. Reviewing all expenses, Mayor Danny Jones suggested that the city 1) consider non-partisan elections, which would end the need for primaries; and 2) synchronize its balloting with mid-term elections.
The non-partisan elections idea ran into resistance. But the proposal to move city voting to even-numbered years when there is no presidential election appears to have support.
The plan calls for the city to hold elections in 2015 as scheduled, but to shorten the terms so the next election would piggyback with county-run balloting in 2018.
Jones thinks it may be possible for council to make the change without having to go to the ballot box.
"If we could do a charter change, we would not have to take it to the public," Jones said. "If we all approve and there's no dissension, we can do it on the floor of [the] council."
The vote would have to be unanimous, he said.
"If there's any objection - that means any objection, any voter - then we'll have to have a special election and it will cost us $200,000," Jones said.
Piggybacking the municipal election with midterm elections would save the city $400,000 every four years without doing harm to the democratic process. If anything, voter turnout would rise.
In the May primary, voters would select candidates for Congress, the Legislature, county commission, mayor and city council. The final election would be held in November.
It's a good idea.
Voting need not be complicated or expensive. Other municipalities might consider following suit.