A new law enacted by the Indiana General Assembly says non-contested races will no longer appear on the ballot during municipal elections.
The Secretary of State’s office says some cities will save money because of the law. Elletsville and Stinesville for example will not hold elections at all this fall since none of the city offices up for re-election are being contested.
In cities like Bloomington, an election will still take place, but many precincts will only have one race on their ballots, that of City Council At-Large.
Sixth District Councilman Steve Volan, who is running unopposed this year, says the plan does not make sense for Bloomington and the savings of taking one or two lines off the ballot is minimal.
“You still have to have everyone go out to the precincts for the one citywide race that’s going to be on the ballot,” he said. “It’s just going to reduce turnout even further.”
The Right to NOT Vote
Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan says the new rules go against the electoral process.
“It’s horrible for a number of reasons,” he said. “To me, it’s anti-democratic to have someone to take office without voting.”
Kruzan says voters should still have the option not to vote for an unopposed candidate.
“I think people ought to have a right NOT to vote for Mark Kruzan or whoever it is who has no opponent,” he said. “The way in which you express your dissatisfaction is to not vote in a non- contested race.”
Kruzan says when politicians see the difference in the numbers of people who voted for the contested and non-contested candidates, they can determine how much public support they have.
The law, which took effect July 1st, was instituted as a cost savings measure, the Secretary of State’s office said.
Both Kruzan and Volan agree though that towns with no contested races at all should not waste money on an election during these economic times.