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Moffitt bill would move city elections to even-numbered years

All municipal elections in Henderson County would move from odd- to even-numbered years if a bill filed Thursday by state Sen. Tim Moffitt becomes law. 
The “Increase Municipal Election Participation Act” (Senate Bill 265), which would also apply to Polk and Rutherford counties, follows a similar change in other cities that has proven to significantly boost voter turnout.


“This reform reflects a trend happening all across the state, with Asheville and Raleigh being the most notable,” Moffitt said in a news release. “Without exception, every municipal election that has changed from odd-numbered to even-numbered years has significantly increased turnout.”

In Asheville, the race for Mayor in 2017 garnered 18,166 total votes; when the election was changed to even-numbered years in 2022, the total votes cast for mayor was 39,365 — an increase of 117 percent. In Raleigh, the numbers were even more dramatic: in 2017, there were 54,788 votes cast for mayor. In 2022, voters cast 153,472 ballots — a 80 percent increase. 

“By putting municipal elections  on the same schedule as all the other races — including all county, state legislative, judicial, and gubernatorial elections as well all federal elections (U.S. Congress and the presidency) — county election boards will also save money because they aren’t running elections every year,” Moffitt said. “That appeals to my inclination to always look for efficiencies and savings in state government.” 

In Henderson County, the legislation would affect the Village of Flat Rock, the Town of Fletcher, the City of Hendersonville, the Town of Laurel Park, and the town of Mills River; in Polk County, the legislation affects the Town of Columbus, the City of Saluda, and the Town of Tryon; in Rutherford County, the legislation affects the Village of Chimney Rock, the Town of Ellenboro, the Town of Forest City, the Town of Lake Lure, the Town of Ruth, the Town of Rutherfordton, and the the Town of Spindale.

SB265 would move 2023 elections in these municipalities to 2024 and extend the terms of the mayor and city/town/village councils as necessary to conform to the new schedule. 

“Good governance and participatory democracy rely on an engaged citizenry,” Moffitt said. “I wouldn’t be doing my job as a lawmaker if I didn’t help increase informed turnout in our local elections. The more folks who vote, the better. This legislation helps get us there.”