This Past Year Proves We Cannot Ignore School Board Elections

This Past Year Proves We Cannot Ignore School Board Elections

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

For a long time, school board elections have been one of the easiest to ignore. Maybe it’s because the names on the ballot don’t stand out as much as the candidates for President, Governor, or U.S. Senate. Maybe it’s because people are too busy to research the candidates. Or maybe it’s because voters who don’t have kids—or whose kids are not in public school—don’t see how school board elections can affect them.

But if 2021 has taught us anything, it’s that even the smallest election has consequences. And nowhere has that been more obvious than with the leftist agendas that have taken over Arizona’s school districts this past year.


Let’s Look at Limiting These Never-Ending Election Campaigns

Let’s Look at Limiting These Never-Ending Election Campaigns

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

In 1952, Dwight Eisenhower announced he was a Republican 10 months before the general election. In June, he resigned his military office to devote full time to his presidential campaign.

Adlai Stevenson was already a Democrat by 1952 but resisted multiple efforts by Democrat partisans to nominate him as their candidate. After his stirring speech at the convention that summer, they did so anyway. Three months later, a president (Eisenhower) was duly elected.

Modest candidates and brief campaigns are now in our receding past. The 2020 presidential race lasted 1,194 days after the first candidate declared. The 2024 election, for practical purposes, started immediately after the previous election. Fully three years out, news and opinion outlets are brimming with the latest poll numbers, candidate statements, and expert speculation.

No other nation subjects itself to such an exhausting ordeal. Elections in Canada, the UK, and Australia all last about six weeks. In Japan, they get it done in 12 days.

Admittedly, these are parliamentary systems where elections are triggered by political events, but France gives candidates just six months to qualify for the second-tier ballot, then two weeks to campaign in the finals.

American campaigns weren’t always ultramarathons. Warren Harding, for example, announced his candidacy 321 days before the 1920 election. Most American presidential candidates operated under a similar timeline.

The “modern” era began with the contentious 1968 Democrat convention when the party rank-and-file wrested control from the smoke-filled rooms, and the popular primary system was established. In 1976, the obscure Jimmy Carter was able to build momentum in the primaries by campaigning early. Ambitious politicians ever since have taken note.

But super-long campaigns have consequences, most of them undesirable. The most obvious is that length favors deep pockets, the ability to finance a years-long, money draining effort.

Few candidates can self-fund. Instead, they have to spend immense amounts of time and do a lot of promising to raise the many millions required for the campaign. Many political leaders are distracted from their duties by the minutiae of campaigning.

Never-ending campaigns simultaneously exhaust and entrance voters. Competitions are naturally interesting and easy to understand. It’s simple and inexpensive for the media to churn out horse-race stories, so NATO, supply chains, and housing policy get short shrift while mountains of articles are written about the prospects of the candidates far in the future.

It has long been a truism that more challenging, risky issues are harder to tackle in an election year. But if every year is effectively an election year, then it’s never the right time for heavy lifting.

Instead, governing in the midst of a campaign creates constant pressure to “do something,” so that politicians appear active and effective. Populist policies and handouts which favor the growth of government are thought to attract voters. Moderation and fiscal restraint don’t sell well, so they are kicked to the curb.

The Build Back Better bill was the perfect campaign legislation, something for everyone. No wonder Democrats are panicked over the electoral consequences of its possible failure.

But long campaign seasons also have their clear winners. Potential candidates are already dropping by Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, which happen to be crucial early primary states just to, you know, see how the folks are doing.

These states fiercely protect their primary position and with good reason. Iowa particularly has successfully exploited the candidates’ need to ingratiate themselves into the long-term protection of ethanol mandates, regulations and subsidies. It’s foolish policy with no environmental or other benefit except to corn farmers and producers, another result of our long and complicated presidential elections.

Compared with other countries, the U.S. has a short presidential term and an unusually long election process. This near constant turnover lengthens the period in which we are vulnerable to foreign actors exploiting us for their benefit.

Other democracies have laws which limit elections. Exactly nobody is clamoring for longer elections in those countries. Still, politicians are unlikely to reform their own system.

In the absence of other options to rid ourselves of these expensive, dysfunctional election campaigns, maybe we should take a look.

Maricopa County’s Bond and Override Election Results Should be a Wake-Up Call to Teachers’ Unions

Maricopa County’s Bond and Override Election Results Should be a Wake-Up Call to Teachers’ Unions

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

People are fed up. And parents, in particular, are frustrated with school boards across the state. Now, they are starting to speak up. But it’s not just with their voices at local school board meetings. Last week, they spoke up at the ballot box.

Across Maricopa County, multiple bond and override elections were held affecting various school districts. And in a year that didn’t include a midterm or presidential election, you would expect a low-turnout election like this one to benefit the funding proponents.

But the results were very telling.

Most of the bonds and overrides affecting school districts in suburban areas failed. And in many cases, they weren’t even close.

Override continuations were voted down in the Buckeye, Agua Fria, Liberty, and Litchfield school districts while bonds went unapproved in the Higley, Cave Creek, and Queen Creek school districts. A budget increase for the school district in Fountain Hills also failed.

The only suburban areas that were exceptions were Kyrene and Chandler. This must have the left in a tizzy.


Power Over Elections Belong in Arizona

Power Over Elections Belong in Arizona

By J. Christian Adams |

Congress is considering a bill that would strip Arizona of one of its most basic powers – the power to govern their own affairs.

A monster 700 page bill called H.R.1 has already passed the House of Representatives that takes away power to run Arizona’s elections and send it to Washington D.C. The bill would do so many bad things there isn’t space to cover it all.

It would mandate ballots to roll in ten days after the election. It bans voter ID. It prohibits Secretary of State Katie Hobbs from cleaning voter rolls from deadwood, a task she has gotten very good at.

H.R.1 takes the power away from the people’s representatives to draw legislative lines. It even mandates that criminals convicted of voter fraud get their right to vote back!

That’s just the beginning. It also pays political candidates running for Congress a salary with your tax dollars, as hard as it is to believe.

Not only is H.R.1 full of bad ideas, it fundamentally transforms the relationship between Arizona and the federal government.  The most fundamental power the states kept in the Constitution was the power to structure their own political system.

If the states did not keep this power 234 years ago under the new Constitution, there would not have ever been a United States.  The politicians in Congress supporting H.R.1 want to undo that original Constitutional agreement. They are the new nullifiers, trying to extinguish the original designs of our founding documents.

Power is best kept closest to the people, not in Washington D.C.  Our elections are decentralized and given to the states to run because decentralization helps preserve individual liberty.  The founders knew when power is centralized, especially power over elections, bad things tend to happen.

Elections certainly have consequences.  But there are limits to what Congress can do, even a Congress completely controlled by the Democrat Party.

America has gotten this far because our Constitutional bargain kept power over elections with the states. Nobody in Washington D.C. has the power to undo that bargain.  If they try, it will be a destabilizing blow to our Constitution.

Christian Adams is the President of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a former Justice Department attorney and current commissioner on the United States Commission for Civil Rights.