STANISLAUS COUNTY -- Odd or even.
Districts putting off 2013 elections until 2014 means more than an extra year tacked onto existing school board terms. Going to the general election ballot could change the tenor as well as the turnout in local races, and there is no guarantee it will lower the cost.
The term extensions that Riverbank Unified trustees voted for Saturday angered Riverbank Teachers Association President Jim Boling. "They're denying our right to vote in November. That's just wrong," he said.
Stanislaus County has a card-style ballot that in presidential election years already strains to fit national, state, county and city offices, special districts, lighting districts, irrigation districts, fire districts and an ever-growing list of state ballot initiatives.
Districts pay for elections as a pro-rated share of the county's total election cost, said county Clerk-Recorder Lee Lundrigan. If a second card is needed, costs essentially will double, she said.
"We couldn't say at this time if there would be a cost saving or not," she said.
National politics distracting
But beyond dollars, the sense of having odd-year elections is to separate community elections from the hullabaloo of national politics, said Larry Giventer, a political science professor at California State University, Stanislaus.
"Now we're mixing in with that all the nonpartisan elections. It's reasonable to assume partisanship will find its way into the place of local elections," he said.
Lundrigan said smaller contests can get lost in the shuffle. "The whole purpose of an odd-year election is to encourage and support local candidates to run in their communities and garner local support, instead of pitting small local races against the tidal wave of presidential and gubernatorial candidates and media," she said.
While national elections do have far higher turnout, not all of those voters will mark ballots all the way down.
Empire Union Superintendent Bob Price said his district is going to run the numbers. "We plan to do a complete demographic study, including voting patterns," Price said, looking for whether more voters would participate in odd or even years.