The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will soon ask City voters to make it more difficult to re-call aldermen. The same sorts of changes are being discussed in other local municipalities.
Some of the proposed changes to the re-call laws are good ones. Others are more problematic. But, both the good and the less good changes are overshadowed by a fundamental point: the percentage of voters who come to the polls in municipal and special elections is small - and falling. And aldermen elected by tiny factions can be recalled by tiny factions.
One big reason more people don’t come to the polls is the institutional inconvenience imposed by the Board of Elections. That’s why I have been fighting to improve customer service by the Election Board, even though it is a state agency.
The Election Board is installing new voting technologies that should make it easier to vote. But, what they really need to do is improve the unreliable voter files; recruit and train good election judges; take better advantage of the resources of the Secretary of State’s office; choose better polling places; pay more attention to their customers during non-voting times; and publicize elections.
These changes - and an "early voting" process that allows voters to cast their ballots at their own convenience several weeks before an election - are the real reforms.