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Our View: The time is now for even-year elections

Well, the results are in, and we can't say we're surprised.

Of the 54,540 people registered to vote in the South Washington County School District, exactly 4,009 turned up at the polls Nov. 8 to cast their vote for School Board.

In case you're counting, that's just a titch above 7 percent turnout. Not that that's anything new. (In all fairness, this year's vote did garner larger turnout over 2009 numbers. By about 600 votes.)

Regardless, this year's figures represented yet another disappointment. That is, unless you're not into a robust electorate.

We hope the public sees otherwise.

On these pages in past months, we have urged District 833 School Board members to reconsider holding elections in odd years. We feel the need reiterate that message, given the most recent results.

To recap: Holding elections in even years puts School Board races in front of a much larger electorate, which many would argue is more befitting the democratic system. Moving to even-year elections also scales back the financial cost of rolling out polling machines -- and paying government workers -- to count ballots in odd years.

Proponents of odd-year elections argue that they allow school boards, which usually battle obscurity anyway, the opportunity to stand on their own and not get lost in the collective noise of a general-election ballot.

But when 7 percent of the voting public makes a decision that will ultimately affect 100 percent of the district's students and taxpayers, we see that as a problem -- and a correctable one, at that.

In the interest of all its residents and students, the district should adopt even-year elections.