Of New Jersey’s 600 or so school districts, 410 have opted to switch their elections to November under a new law Gov. Chris Christie signed in January. The Star-Ledger has a good analysis of the change, and the politics, here.
In a nutshell: What’s in it for the districts? They won’t have to put their budgets up to a vote, and spend months selling and defending their financial projections to voters.
What’s in it for the beleaguered New Jersey taxpayer? Presumably, more of them will get out to the polls in November than the paltry rates that show up for school district elections in April. And that greater turnout should make the schools budgeting process, elections and elected representation more democratic.
Now state Sen. Donald Norcross (D-Camden) wants more local elections following the school districts to the November ballot. He lamented the low turnout at the Deptford fire district’s elections, which found a whopping voter turnout of 1.25 percent.
The question is, will larding the November ballot with even more elected offices yield better, more informed voting, or will the smaller races be lost in the shuffle and hype surrounding the presidential and statewide elections at the top of the ballot? And will New Jersey voters decide that the “local control” enabled by the layers and layers of ostensibly representative government in the Garden State isn’t worth the costs of redundant bureaucracies those layers of government entail?