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School Board Election Reform

Our current school board election style is an at-large election system. With at-large systems, all voters can vote for all seats up for election (i.e. when electing five representatives, voters can vote for five candidates). Depending on the system, all candidates may run against one another, with the highest vote getters winning election, or candidates may run for individual, designated seats. In some cases, runoffs will be used to ensure that all winners have majority support, while in others it is possible to win with a simple plurality. At-large systems allow specific candidates and voting blocs, usually wealthy white candidates and voters, to select candidates and control school boards. At-large systems have frequently been struck down under the Voting Rights Act for not providing disadvantaged communities or people of color with fair representation.

I believe Bastrop ISD should change to a single-member district system of voting in order to allow for better representation of communities around the district. Under single member district systems, the school district is divided into a number of geographically defined voting districts, each represented by a single elected official. Voters can only vote for their district’s representative, with the highest vote-getter winning election, even if he or she has received less than half of the vote. With this system there are challenges such as gerrymandering but it gives disadvantaged communities and candidates of color a chance at equal and fair representation. 

As a trustee I will propose a 5-2 single-member election system. Under my plan, the district will be broken up into 5 single-member districts in which we will elect 5 school board trustees representing each of those districts, and we will elect 2 at large trustees who represent the entire district. This plan will allow for a more diverse school board and provide equal representation for every student within our district.

At the very least we should consider moving our school board elections to November when there are federal or state elections to ensure maximum voter turnout. Elections in May historically have low voter turnout which does not allow for representation among our underserved communities. By moving school board elections to November of federal or state elections we will increase voter turn out and community engagement. 



Pol. Adv. Paid for by Joseph B. Thompson
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