The problem

Local governments across the United States have a big voter turnout problem in odd numbered years, which is when elections are currently held for most of our local positions, including offices in city and towns, such as council, attorney, and mayor. Turnout is often under fifty percent and increasingly under forty percent. Leaders are thus being chosen by a fraction of the electorate… a few, rather than the many.

The solution

By moving regularly scheduled elections for local positions to even-numbered years, we can ensure that key local offices are chosen by a much larger and more diverse universe of voters, because even-year turnout is consistently above fifty percent and, in some states, regularly above seventy percent. State by state, we’ll accomplish this by changing our laws to allow local governments like cities and towns to choose when they hold their elections, rather than forcing them to elect all of their positions in odd-numbered years.

On-demand deep dive: The case for even year elections

Love data? Appreciate metrics and research? Then you'll enjoy this comprehensive presentation on the benefits of switching localities to even years from Professor Zoltan Hajnal, the leading expert on election timing in the United States.

Even year elections legislation by state

New York: Senate Bill S3505B provides that certain local elections held outside of New York City shall be in an even-numbered year. 

Polling from Siena College found 2:1 support for the legislation.

Washington: Three related bills have been proposed to give cities and towns the freedom to switch their general elections to even-numbered years. Learn more about this legislation, first introduced in 2023 and now up for consideration again in 2024.

And, don't miss Sightline Institute's excellent analysis of how Washington cities and towns pay a huge turnout penalty due to holding their elections in odd-numbered years! 

In Every Washington City, Odd-Year Elections Crush Voter Turnout
In Every Washington City, Odd-Year Elections Crush Voter Turnout... and state law keeps it that way.

Montana: Senate Bill 420 requires the election of city officials on even years. This legislation died when the Legislature adjourned Sine Die without passing it. 

Coalition for Even-Year Elections

The Coalition is an alliance of voting justice organizations that support moving local elections in the Pacific Northwest and beyond to even-numbered years, when data shows voter turnout is much higher and more diverse. Experience has demonstrated that adopting even-year elections for localities does more for turnout than any other possible voting reform. It's also extremely popular with voters. Any organization that shares our principles is welcome to join us.