Bill would create non-election elections in municipalities

Posted May 9, 2013 at 12:23 pm

In Jefferson City, Senate Bill 90 has been amended by the House Elections Committee to allow for “non-election elections” in cities, towns and villages with populations of 6,000 or fewer.

Currently, for instance, in school board elections when three candidates file for three open seats, there is no election. When filing closes, the three “candidates” are declared winners. There is no opportunity for write-in candidates.

Here is what House Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 90 would do:

Nonpartisan elections in certain municipalities – 115.124

Under current law, no election is held in non-partisan elections in political subdivisions or special districts, excluding municipal elections, if the number of candidates who have filed for a particular office is equal to the number of positions in that office to be filled and proper notice is given.

Under HCS/SB 90, in municipalities with 6,000 or fewer inhabitants, the governing body of the municipality may submit to voters a proposal to allow for no election to be held if the number of candidates for a non-partisan office is equal to the number of positions to be filled and proper notice is given. If a majority of voters approve the proposal, then the municipality must conduct non-partisan elections in such manner.

In addition, this act requires the election authority, if no election is held for a non-partisan office in a political subdivision or special district, to publish a notice containing the names of the candidates that will assume office. The notice must be published by April 1 in at least one newspaper of general circulation in the political subdivision or district.

If you are opposed to such “non-election elections,” please contact your State Representative and your State Senator to express your opposition.

Today, there is no time to waste.

Contact Representatives: http://www.house.mo.gov/member.aspx

Contact Senators: http://www.senate.mo.gov/13info/SenateRoster.htm

Here’s some information on this subject from MPA’s point of view:

The Missouri Press Association opposes this trend of allowing “non-elections.”

This bad idea began more than a decade ago when county party committees were exempted from holding elections for committeemen and committeewomen. That got the ball rolling, and Missouri started down the slippery slope.

Today, public school districts, hospital districts, water districts, fire districts, ambulance districts, have this exemption . . . “if the number of candidates who have filed for a particular office is equal to the number of positions in that office to be filled by the election, no election shall be held for such office, and the candidates shall assume the responsibilities of their offices at the same time and in the same manner as if they had been elected.”

Non-elections have created some issues that legislators may not have anticipated. One of the biggest problems with the process is that non-elections eliminate any opportunity for write-in candidates once filing has closed.

There may be times when — during the period between the filing deadline and election day — voters discover something negative about a candidate, and they don’t want that person to automatically “win” the non-election.

Currently, cities, towns and villages sometimes are saddled with all the election costs in April. Those costs once were spread among the city, town, village, school district and other special districts. But, now those districts are exempted. The cities, towns and villages want the same deal.

The Missouri Press Association believes all political subdivisions should hold elections, whether one candidate files for an office or a dozen candidates file.

Voters should perform their civic duty and vote candidates in to office. Write-in candidates should not be trumped by this law. Voters should be able to read names on a ballot so they know who is representing them.

The Governor vetoed a 2011 Elections Bill, and one of the reasons for his veto was this Non-Elections Elections issue.

Candidates should be elected. Non-elections are not an example of good government.