Friday, October 09, 2009

Pierce County Better Government League "reforms"

Supporters and board members of the Pierce County Better (sic) Government League have proposed and passed reforms in past elections. The impact of these "reforms" has been to reduce voter turnout for county level offices. How did they do that?

In 2007, they put on the ballot charter amendments to make the Auditor and the Assessor-Treasurer positions non-partisan as well as to extend the term limits of these positions from two terms to three terms.

In 2008, there were seven county level races on the ballot. The one race shifted to being non-partisan was the Assessor-Treasurer race. All other county level races showed increases in voter participation between 2004 and 2008. The non-partisan Assessor-Treasurer race saw a decline in voter participation from 70.4% of registered voters in 2004 to 63.7% in 2008. As this comparison shows, the decline in voter participation was due entirely to the "reform" foisted on us by the council members who are now behind the PCBGL.

This year's PCBGL amendments 1 and 2 would shift some county level races (but not all) to odd-numbered years. This will also decrease voter participation as fewer people vote in odd-numbered years. In addition, PCBGL's amendment 3 would shift more of the voting to the even lower turnout August primary in odd-numbered years. This will result in even lower turnout.

Voters should reject all three charter amendments this year. These "reforms" are designed to reduce voter participation in county level elections.

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