Welcome to the Monday, August 21, 2023, Brew.
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Talking off-cycle elections on the Ballotpedia podcast
- Arkansas to elect new state treasurer in 2024
- All candidates for Indianapolis City Council District 13 complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey
Talking off-cycle elections on the Ballotpedia podcast
Whether an election is conducted off-cycle or on-cycle significantly impacts voter turnout.
The extent to which election timing affects voter turnout varies across states and jurisdictions, but research has shown that turnout drops significantly in off-cycle elections.
In our Aug. 10 episode of On the Ballot, we talked to University of California—San Diego Professor Zoltan Hajnal about how the timing of elections—off-cycle, on-cycle, and more—affects turnout and voter engagement.
Hajnal is the director of the Yankovic Center for Social Science Research, and much of his research has focused on racial and ethnic politics, urban politics, and voting behavior, particularly when it comes to election timing and off-cycle elections.
Ballotpedia defines off-cycle elections as elections held on dates other than regularly-scheduled federal elections. To learn more about these elections, click here.
Most, but not all, off-cycle elections are for local offices. Five states, for example, hold off-year state elections for governor and other executive offices. Four of those states also hold off-year state legislative elections:
- Kentucky (executive offices)
- Louisiana (executive and legislative offices)
- Mississippi (executive and legislative offices)
- New Jersey (executive and legislative offices)
- Virginia (executive and legislative offices)
According to Hajnal, convenience is part of the reason for the difference in turnout between off-cycle and on-cycle elections. When local elections coincide with presidential elections, for example, there’s a substantial uptick in voter participation due to the pre-existing attention directed toward the presidential race. Over half of the voting-age population tends to participate in presidential elections, and by adding local contests to the same ballot, participation in those becomes more convenient. Those already participating in the presidential race can easily vote in local elections by simply checking a box lower down the ballot.
On the other hand, participating in off-cycle elections requires an extra effort on the part of the voter, Hajnal said. Voters need to learn the specific date of the election, they might need to learn how to acquire a ballot or go to a particular location to vote.
“So simply by matching these contests up with a higher salience presidential election, we’re making it a lot easier for the people who are already participating in that higher salience election to also participate in their local election,” Hajnal said.
In the episode, Hajnal also discusses the state of legislation aiming to change off-cycle elections to on-cycle ones, the challenges associated with such changes, and the level of support these bills receive from legislators, election officials, and the broader electorate.
According to our database, more than 100 bills that would move elections to coincide with existing state or federal election dates have been introduced in 2023. In 2022, we noted fewer than 40 such bills.
We also identified 13 local ballot measures in 2022 designed to move municipal election dates from odd to even-numbered years and to coincide with statewide elections. All 13 of those measures were approved. No such ballot measures have been referred to the ballot in 2023.
New episodes of On the Ballot come out on Thursday afternoons. Don’t miss out on the latest content! Click below to listen to older episodes and find links to where you can subscribe.
Arkansas to elect new state treasurer in 2024
On Aug. 3, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) appointed Larry Walther (R) as the state’s new treasurer. Walther replaced Mark Lowery (R), who died on July 26 after suffering multiple strokes.
Walther will serve until Jan. 14, 2025, when the winner of a November 2024 special election to fill the last two years of Lowery’s four-year term will take office.
On Aug. 9, Secretary of State John Thurston (R) announced he will run in the special election to complete the rest of Lowery’s term.
The Arkansas state treasurer is one of 105 state financial offices (SFOs) nationwide. Broadly, SFOs are responsible for things like auditing other government offices, managing payroll, and overseeing pensions. In some states, certain SFOs are also responsible for investing state retirement and trust funds, meaning they get to decide where that public money goes.
Lowery was one of 50 state financial officials (SFOs) voters directly elected in November 2022. That year, voters either directly or indirectly decided who would control 68 (65%) of the 105 state financial offices. Here’s a breakdown of how they were selected:
- Direct elections: voters directly elected 50 SFOs in 2022.
- Appointees with expiring terms: nine SFOs’ terms were set to expire in 2023 or 2024, with decision-making power for the next term falling to the governors and legislators voters who were on the ballot in 2022.
- Contingent appointees: nine SFOs’ didn’t have a term length, but instead served at the pleasure of elected officials who were on the ballot in 2022. If an elected official lost or the office switched party control, their predecessor decided whether to keep those SFOs or appoint new ones.
- Other: four SFOs’ terms were contingent upon either a non-elected appointee or a multi-member board.
To learn more about state financial officer election results in 2022, click here.
In Arkansas, the treasurer is the chief financial officer of the state government. The treasurer acts as the state’s banker, accepting deposits in the form of taxes and fees, and disbursing funds to state agencies based on warrants from the auditor’s office. The office is also responsible for providing state aid to local governments and investing the state’s cash funds.
The state treasurer is an elected office in 36 out of the 48 states where it exists. In the remaining 12 states, the position is appointed. In eight of those states, the governor appoints the treasurer, while in the remaining four, the state legislature does.
There is no treasurer in New York or Texas. In those states, the controller performs the duties of the treasurer.
Click below to learn more.
All candidates for Indianapolis City Council District 13 complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey
We ask all federal, state, and local candidates with profiles on Ballotpedia to complete this survey and share what motivates them on political and personal levels. These survey responses allow voters to hear directly from candidates about what motivates them to run for office.
When an election reaches 100% survey completion, we make sure to let others know. That’s because in races where all candidates completed the survey, voters get a unique opportunity to compare and contrast the candidates’ backgrounds, objectives, and experiences.
Here are three recent examples:
- Nashville Metro Council District 11 and Tucson City Council Ward 1
- Republican primary for Mississippi’s House District 111
- Virginia House of Delegates District 7
Today, we’ll look at a city council election in Indianapolis, which is holding general elections for mayor and all seats on the city council on Nov. 7.
The two candidates running to represent District 13 on the council—Jesse Brown (D) and Elizabeth Glass (Libertarian Party)—completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey.
Let’s take a look at the candidates’ responses to the question: What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?
- “We need massive investment in our infrastructure and public transportation systems.
- We must insist on high-paying union jobs for any company seeking taxpayer money.
- We deserve a government that is responsive, accountable, and transparent.”
- “The City Council should work to ensure that our police and fire departments have the resources they need to keep our community safe, while also respecting the rights of our citizens.
- The City Council is capable of reducing taxes for the citizens of Indianapolis and should work to reduce the tax burden on our citizens and businesses.
- The City Council should operate in an open and transparent manner in all aspects, but especially when it comes to where its citizen’s taxes are going.”
Click on the candidates’ profile pages below to read their full responses to this and other questions.
Indianapolis is the 15th largest city in the United States. It uses a strong mayor and city council system. In this form of municipal government, the city council serves as the city’s primary legislative body, while the mayor serves as the city’s chief executive.