Phoenix Considers Changing Mayor, Council Elections
Phoenix is considering changing the way city elections are held and it could involve council and mayoral races appearing on the same ballots with state and federal races.
Currently, elections for mayor and council members are held in odd-numbered years with about 20 percent of registered voters participating. Races for governor and president take place in even-numbered years with turnout ranging from 40 to 70 percent.
Resident Keith Broadwater thinks consolidating city elections with state primary and general elections is a no-brainer.
“Low voter turnout has been the acceptable norm in Phoenix for decades,” he said during Wednesday’s council meeting. “It must change.”
While all councilmembers expressed interest in increasing voter turnout, some had different takes on how changing election dates could impact voters.
“The biggest thing that suppresses turnout is the current system,” said Councilman Jim Waring. “If we make a change, turnout’s going to go up just by virtue of the fact that we’re not doing the silly stuff we’re doing right this second.”
“I do want a higher voter turnout,” said Vice Mayor Laura Pastor. “But we also want those disenfranchised communities such as independents, Latinos, the voting bloc that comes out to vote to be able to have the access to vote. But to say turnout and access are the same thing is naïve and false.”
Councilmember Debra Stark made a motion to have staff draft language that could potentially change the mayor and council election cycle to November in even-numbered years with runoff elections in March, if needed.
“You will get the best turnout in November,” she said.
But there were questions about costs and security if the city hired the county to handle elections. The council approved Stark’s motion and to research other issues, including security and special elections.
Any changes to the city election cycle would have to be approved by voters.
Registered Voters In Phoenix
Independent: 35.31 percent
Democratic: 34.88 percent
Republican: 28.39 percent
Other: 1.42 percent
Source: Phoenix City Clerk