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Politics & Government

Bill limiting school district referendums in committee limbo

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Delaware Public Media
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Delaware’s school-related elections would move to a vote-by-mail system under a bill still running through the committee process.

 

It would also limit school districts to holding one tax referendum each year.

 

 

That’s sparking backlash from some education groups, who say schools will suffer should voters reject tax hike proposals they say the districts need to operate.

 

Sen. Karen Peterson (D-Stanton) says the state shouldn’t have to bear the cost of holding two, or sometimes three tax referendums until they pass.

 

“I think that when they go out to the voters [districts] should be straightforward and honest about what they need and not ask for way more than they need, knowing they get a second bite at the apple and can ratchet it down,” Peterson said.

 
Others, including some lawmakers, questioned how much it would cost to switch to a postal-based voting system.

 

State election commissioner Elaine Manlove says postage would run about $200,000 a year, which Peterson says will save money over setting up polls.  She also says other states that implemented similar systems saw big gains in turnout.

 

“It doubled the voter participation. You know, I’m in favor of anything that increases voter participation – especially with school district elections where sometimes six percent of the voters vote.”

 

Voters would also have to be registered with the state election department instead of simply showing up at the polls with a utility bill proving their residency.

 

Senators considered the bill in committee Wednesday, but didn’t take a formal vote on the issue.