To the editor:
On June 13, the Alexandria City Council may consider a proposal to move Alexandria City elections from May to November. If passed, this move will have negative consequences for our city.
While some argue that moving our citywide races for mayor, City Council and School Board to November will boost turnout, this move will decrease the amount of time and energy spent by citywide candidates on Alexandria-specific issues. Why? Because candidates would compete with higher-ballot races such as races for U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate, State Assembly and State Senate for voter attention.
By keeping citywide elections in May, candidates and voters can focus on the needs and wellbeing of our city something that encourages healthy debate undiluted by larger elections.
To boost turnout, Council should consider applying for a small grant from a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization so that the city can send official sample ballots including candidate information and voting locations to all registered voters. This information is currently available online; having it mailed to voters would be useful. Some studies have demonstrated that such ballots increase turnout by 10 percentage points for some population subgroups.
Accordingly, Council should reject efforts to change the citys election calendar and pursue other avenues to increase turnout. While the current proposal may slightly boost turnout, it will ultimately decrease interest in races that impact our daily lives.
Andrew R. Campanella