By Nick Dranias and Lucy Morrow Caldwell
The year 2014 will mark a new era at the ballot-box for Arizona voters, if a critical piece of legislation passes the Arizona Legislature this spring. HB 2826, which would take effect in 2014, would consolidate all election dates across the state to November of even-numbered years. Based on recent experience of the City of Scottsdale from consolidating local elections, which saved the city nearly $200,000 in 2010, we can expect that taxpayers throughout the state would save millions of dollars every election cycle if HB 2826 became law.
And that’s just the “seen” savings. Far greater as-of-yet “unseen” savings would likely come from increased voter participation. With more taxpayers participating in elections, taxpayers will have a better opportunity to reject bonds and other spending initiatives, which are typically sought by special interest groups who dominate the current off-cycle elections.
This will help prevent fiscal fiascos, such as occurred in March 2006 when fewer than 16 percent of Phoenix voters approved $900 million in new taxpayer spending during an off-cycle special bond election. Likewise, if HB 2826 becomes law, a mere 21 percent of Pima County voters will no longer be able to approve over $732 million in new bond-funded spending, as happened in May 2004.
Contrary to what opponents of HB 2826 say, consolidating elections will not just increase the voter’s voice, it will help burst the bubble of unsustainable special interest spending.