Lawmakers are being asked to consider a proposal in the state House of Representatives that would reorder the non-partisan Michigan ballot to bump the races for community college boards of trustees and intermediate school district boards up higher on the ballot above local school board races. Although there may be some backlash from local school districts already fighting for voters’ attention with their current position on the ballot, adopting such legislation is logical.
House Bill (HB) 5127, which was introduced late last month by state Rep. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) and is co-sponsored by state Reps. Eileen Kowall (R-Highland, White Lake) and Bill Rogers (R-Milford), among others, would make those two contests appear right after where people check the ballot for district court judge races.
The ballot for non-partisan races is currently ordered as follows: Michigan Supreme Court justices; state Court of Appeals judgeships; circuit court judgeships; probate court judgeships; district court judgeships; city officers; certain village officers; local school district boards of education; community college boards of trustees; intermediate school district board members; and district library board members.
If the legislation is approved by both chambers of the state Legislature, the non-partisan races would be ordered as follows: Michigan Supreme Court justices; state Court of Appeals judgeships; circuit court judgeships; probate court judgeships; district court judgeships; community college boards of trustees; intermediate school district board members; city officers; certain village officers; local school district boards of education; and district library board members.
The way most of the ballot is currently ordered sorts the contested races by, essentially, the hierarchy of the related races. For example, Supreme Court contests are placed higher on the ballot than state Court of Appeals races, which appear above circuit court and district court contests. However, with the races impacting schools — no matter what the level — the contests appear in the opposite order, with local school board races appearing above intermediate school board contests and community college boards of trustees races.
And while we suspect that local districts wouldn’t be thrilled with being bumped farther down the ballot — and perhaps with good reason — doing so brings the ordering for those education races in line with the rest of the ballot. Just as we would hem and haw if the races for county commissioner, for example, appeared above the race for President of the United States, or even state representative or state senator, the current ballot set-up makes little sense when the rest of the ballot order is taken into consideration.
Lawmakers should adopt HB 5127.