Source: Sherman Publications

Village elections move to Nov.

by Gabriel L. Ouzounian

November 28, 2012

Did you know elections for Lake Orion Village Council members and other village officials are held in September?

The September vote often leads to low voter turnout, of 10 percent or less. The fall election comes at an time when there are no other elections being held and so voters do not turn out in large numbers.

A resolution passed at the Nov. 13 Village Council meeting (six votes to one) will seek to remedy that problem with a goal of a much larger turnout. The solution is that elections are moving to even years and to the month of November.

“Consolidation legislations have done a lot to save school districts and voters money and boost voter turnout,” said Joseph Rozell, Oakland County Director of Elections. “There was a voter turnout of around five percent but now that school elections are in November, their turnouts are in the 50 percent and 60 percent range. The numbers show that stand-alone elections reduce percentages. Some people don’t even know there are elections in September. When it’s bundled in with the presidential elections, people that never voted will now vote.”

In 2004, legislation was passed to only allow four different dates for elections and the consolidation to November is a furthering of that legislation. The goal is to decrease the number of days for elections to make it simpler for the voter and increase turnout.

As years progressed, said Rozell, lower voter turnout has been a growing byproduct. In 2005, 266 Lake Orion residents turned up to vote. By 2011, the number was down to 168. Schools were no different, and had a voter turnout of 965 in Nov. of 2010 dwindle to just 296 in May of 2011.

Another benefit of moving to even year elections in November is the savings the village. The cost to conduct an election, for the village, is $2,000 to $3,000. This number does not include staff time for maintaining registration cards, preparation and arrangements for the election. On top of it, both the village and the township must maintain records of voter registration.

“It ranges based on the district but for a village like Lake Orion it’s about a $3,000 expense,” said Rozell. “Now we can have those resources to spend on other things. It saves resources at the county and at the village in that the clerk does not have to produce materials that would be related to their stand along election. There are lots of things that they won’t have to deal with anymore.”

The elections held in November will be paid for by the county. Terms of office for current village council members that expired in September 2013 will now expire in November 2014, while those expiring in September 2015 will now expire in 2016.