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CONSOLIDATING ELECTIONS IN STATE MAY NOT INCREASE VOTER TURNOUT

A state government report warns that requiring cities to move their local and school elections to coincide with statewide elections wouldn’t necessarily address dismal voter turnouts. Tennessee ranked 49th in voter turnout in 2016, compared to 46th in 2012.

Instead, the report encouraged the GOP-controlled Legislature to continue allowing cities to set their own dates.

The near 70 page report noted around 65 cities, or about 20% of Tennessee’s local charters, don’t align their local elections with the more high-profile election dates.

However, the majority of city elections do coincide with state races. The report found that 280 cities, or about 80% of Tennessee’s local charters, hold their local elections with the larger August or November election.

Some lawmakers have argued that holding too many elections reduces interest in turning out to the polls. Republican Representative Cameron Sexton, who has since become the state House speaker, introduced legislation last year requiring certain cities to change their election dates to coincide with either the August or November election in even-numbered years by 2022.

A House subcommittee agreed to study the bill further by sending it to be reviewed rather than advance the proposal.

Sexton did not mention whether he would push the issue again in the 2020 legislative session.

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