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Rescheduling election will help city voters

VOTING should be neither any more expensive than necessary nor confusing. That is why a plan to move Charleston's city elections to coincide with state elections deserves strong consideration.   

At present, Charleston elects its mayor, city treasurer and members of city council every four years, but in the year before a presidential election.

This means city taxpayers must pay the full cost of two special elections every four years. In 2011 that cost was about $400,000.

Downright jarring was the steep price of the city primary, which was one big snooze.

  • Democrats had only six contested races.
  • Republicans had three.
  • Only 2,328 of 21,587 registered Democrats voted.
  • Only 678 of 9,731 registered Republicans voted.
  • Only 24 of the 6,985 other registered voters voted.
  • In all, only 7.9 percent of the city's registered voters turned out for the primary.
  • And yet city taxpayers had to fund on their own a full-blown primary and then a full-blown general election.

    To heck with that.

    Republican Mayor Danny Jones, Democratic Council Majority Leader Jack Harrison and Republican Council President Tom Lane all agree the city should move its election to coincide with the state's midterm elections, which are two years after the presidential election.

    Under their plan, the city election would take place as scheduled in 2015, but the terms of office would be shortened to allow scheduling the next set of elections for 2018.

    "If we can get the city election to totally jive with the state elections, we would see a lot more people turn out to vote," Lane said. "And that's a good thing."

    Well, it could not be any worse than the 2011 primary in which only 3,030 of the city's 38,303 registered voters cast ballots.



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