Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Update on Issues Surrounding the Upcoming Municipal Election

Last week we conducted a meeting with the counties and Lieutenant Governor regarding the upcoming municipal election and the addition of the school voucher referendum issue to the statewide ballot. If there was still any question whether or not the voucher issues would be included as an issue to be addressed during the upcoming municipal election cycle, it is now firm that, in deed, we will be conduction both elections during the November general election.

Most of the time during last week’s meeting was spent going over the issue of election finances. It was again made clear that the cities and towns will ONLY be held responsible for the anticipated costs that had already been included in the municipal budgets to conduct MUNICIPAL elections. To help determine those budgeted figures the ULCT sent out a municipal survey on that issue and we are getting fairly good responses. To date, we have information from 100 of the 242 cities. After the municipal budgeted revenues are accounted for, it is then the expectation that the counties and the state will come up with necessary funds to offset additional costs that will be associated adding the referendum to the GENERAL election.

Secondly, the issue of election administration was also briefly discussed. While no final decisions were made, there was a clear recognition that several administrative issues need to be addressed. The following issues were identified as things to address:

  • Administration of Early Voting (Conflicts w. the statute governing municipal elections and statewide elections)

  • Lack of comprehensive election coverage if just cities conduct the election

  • Administrative issues if the city elections are not city-wide (just some council districts)

  • Coordination of this effort with Special Service District Elections

  • Consolidation of administration with the county recorders for the general election

  • Use of various equipment for the general election (Optical Scan, Paper, Electronic)

  • Municipal responsibility for the primary election and county responsibility during the general election

  • Use of a given vote machine during the primary and another during the general election

  • Treating the Primary Election differently than the General Election. (Early Voting, Precinct Consolidation, Equipment, Etc.)

While there were a lot of unanswered questions relating to the issues listed above, there seemed to be some initial consensus that the cities/towns should still be responsible for conducting the primary elections that may exist, and any efforts to consolidate efforts on the referendum/municipal election will be limited to the November general election. The does not mean, however, that the cities can't enter into separate contracts with the county to administer primary elections, but it is not the intent of anyone at this point to compel such coordination during the primary elections. There also seemed to be a strong sentiment that the counties may assume sole responsibility for the ADMINISTRATION of the general election to ensure universal coverage, but as mentioned earlier, there will be an expectation that any money that was budgeted by a city for the general election will need to be forwarded from the city to the county to help underwrite the costs associated with assuming administration responsibilities of that election.

Since last week’s meeting was predominately held to flush out the issues, we will be meeting again next week to delve deeper into the unanswered administration aspect of the election. As soon as more information is available we will provide additional updates.

Until next time...ENJOY