Mark: Hey, Bryan, did you hear the Idaho Falls City Council is considering eliminating city council run-off elections?
Bryan: It doesn’t surprise me. Once politicians are in office, they want to be able to stay in office even if they don’t get a majority of the vote.
Doyle: It sounds like the “Incumbent Protection Act” to me.
Bryan: I agree.
Doyle: In 2005, didn’t the voters in the City of Idaho Falls pass a referendum requiring a run-off if a candidate for city council didn’t get a majority of the vote?
Mark: I’ll say they did–by a whopping 68% super-majority!
Bryan: Wait guys. As you know, I’m the lawyer representing Brent Regan raising a constitutional challenge to Proposition 2. People say my client shouldn’t challenge Proposition 2 because he needs to respect “the will of the voters” who passed Medicaid expansion by 60%. Why aren’t these same people asking for even more respect for the city-passed referendum requiring a run-off when the referendum passed by a larger margin of 68% of the votes?
Doyle: Good question!
Bryan: I just read this week that Jerry and Carrie Scheid want to change “the will of the voters” on this issue and let city council candidates be elected without a majority.
Mark: Given their willingness to ignore “the will of the voters” on a city council run-off election, you would think they would publicly support your client’s right to challenge “the will of the voters” on Medicaid expansion.
Bryan: You would think so. But I’m not holding my breath.
Mark: Well, that’s a problem these days. People flip flop based on the political flavor of the day.
Bryan: The Scheids’ recent article said something that needs to be cleared up. Their article cited the May 2018 Republican primary race as precedent for allowing someone to be elected by a small minority of the vote. But their example deals with a primary election where the public gets to vote again, unlike nonpartisan city council elections.
Mark: I see what you mean. Primary elections are designed to pick candidates who will run in a general election. There are actually two votes before the person is elected just like the run-off requires.
Doyle: The Scheids’ article also said that run-off elections are expensive. The most recent one cost $43,246. Didn’t the City of Idaho Falls recently spend well over $1 million for new signage when nowadays people use Google maps on their phones for free?
Mark: The City can fund a run-off race every few years if it can find $1 million for new signs telling people how to get to the library!
Bryan: The Scheids were also concerned about lower voter turnout and reduced absentee ballot participation in a run-off election. But 68% of the city-wide voters agreed that these issues have no merit.
Doyle: I think we need to get the word out that the voters have already spoken on this issue, and they want city council run-off elections!
Mark Fuller serves as the Chair for the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee.
Bryan Smith serves as the Second Vice Chair of the State of Idaho Republican Party and the Fourth Vice Chair of the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee.
Doyle Beck serves as Bonneville County Legislative District 30 Chair.