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Our View: Spring elections may be better off if combined

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Area voters will be heading to the polls April 7 to vote on a slate of local candidates for town boards, village boards, city councils and school boards.

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While there is some interest in several races across St. Croix County, voter turnout is likely to be light in many municipalities. Too many voters have a "been there, done that" attitude when it comes to casting ballots more than once a year.

Who can blame them?

While it makes some sense to "highlight" the local races by holding elections in the spring away from the hubbub of the November general elections, times change.

In this era of limited financial resources, maybe it's time to combine all of our elections. If there are elections just once a year, townships and other municipalities won't have to spend as much money hiring election officials for polling days. That's the way it's done in places like Minnesota, and it saves money in the long run.

Apart from the obvious financial advantages, the move would also bring more visibility to the people on the lowest rungs of the political ladder.

By moving spring elections to the fall, many more voters would likely weigh in on who their local elected officials will be. And perhaps having the local races next to campaigns for U.S. Senate or the presidency will cause a few more of those same voters to think about running for a local board or council themselves.

We admit that shifting from spring to fall elections might be a challenge the first year it occurs. Elected officials will have their current terms cut short or lengthened to line up the start of the new terms.

And we recognize that Wisconsin tradition is strongly behind the status quo of a separate spring balloting.

But sometimes tradition has to be thrown out the window in favor of a better way. And once the shift from spring to fall is actually accomplished, money will be saved and local races may actually take on more meaning.

It sounds like a win-win situation from our perspective.

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