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Case for consolidation: Boise School Board elections see dismal turnout — again

Case for consolidation: Boise School Board elections see dismal turnout — again

Matt Tobeck
September 2, 2020
September 2, 2020

And now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the Boise School Board election results are in…if you were even aware the election took place. 

This year was a whopper: 6.15% of Boise’s 125,550 registered voters voted in the election, an increase of roughly 60% from 2018’s 3.72% turnout. And why wouldn’t it be the case that voter turnout could increase 60% from one election to the next? After all, with turnout so low, it really doesn’t take many people to sway statistics, or elections, for that matter, pretty drastically. 

Some might ask, “Why not hold Boise School Board elections in November, when people are actually expecting elections to take place?” The answer: Boise’s School District is governed by a charter that states school board elections are to be held on the first Tuesday in September in even-numbered years. That charter could be changed to better align to when most people expect elections to take place, namely, in November. For whatever reason, however, the Boise School District has resisted that change.

I think it’s a fair question to ask if it is really appropriate to hold an election when perhaps most people don’t even know it is taking place. After all, isn’t holding an election at a time people are not accustomed to voting a bit antithetical to democratic ideals? Well, apparently, not — if you ask the Boise School Board members, because they have yet to ever alter the date.

It’s high time for Boise to change its antiquated election timetable and join other school boards in better consolidating its election date by putting its school board election on the November ballot. Such election consolidation would surely result in more voter awareness as to the existence of the election, higher turnout, and therefore fairer and more transparent election results. Since I’m sure these are all things the Boise School District wants, I’m sure such change is certain to be right around the corner.

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