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Voters to Hit Polls for School Board Elections, Will You? [AUDIO]

A majority of districts in New Jersey moved local school board elections to November.

Flickr User Fairfax County

But, voters in 73 of them will hit the polls next Tuesday to select 300 candidates for local offices and some will decide on proposed budgets. While important, school board elections are often ignored by voters.

So, what will turnout be like? “It’s hard to say because school board elections have always been intensely local,” said Mike Yaple of the New Jersey School Boards Association. “You do see a lot of interest especially if there is some hot local issue involved and some severe impact on the tax rate or some big construction referendum or something like that.”

According to the State Education Department, 468 districts have opted for the November elections. As long as the local school property taxes don’t go up by more than two percent, those who switched won’t have to put their budgets to a vote and risk rejection. Also, the county election boards pay the full cost of elections.

For decades, fewer than one in five voters showed up each April to vote in school board elections. And most years, a wide majority of budgets were adopted. “It’s not that fewer people are involved in their schools and it’s not that people are disinterested,” said Yaple. “In New Jersey, we’ve had tax caps in place for several years now and the vast majority of school districts have kept under those tax caps so, if there’s an increase but it’s held under reasonable constraints, then you don’t see a lot of people charging out to the polls on election day.”

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