Legislation aimed at improving voter turnout and saving taxpayers money
State Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-I-60, announced Wednesday the Senate has passed bill S.868, which calls for moving the election of members of the City of Buffalo School Board from May to November, a measure that he says will improve voter turnout and save taxpayers money.
The bill marks the third time that it has passed the Senate.
Grisanti estimates that his bill would save taxpayers more than $100,000 due to elections being condensed to one day in November. The legislation also calls for extending the terms of current members of the Buffalo School Board to the last day of December rather than June, allowing for future terms of office to run from January through December.
Grisanti is passionate about the issue, saying many constituents in the 60th District have asked him to continue to push for passage of his legislation.
"The Buffalo School Board helps determine the overall quality of education by helping to set the standards for teaching and creating the budgets that govern the teacher-student ratio," Grisanti said. "The City of Buffalo needs to improve its educational system to compete in the state and the nation for good jobs and a growing economy. It bothers me to know that essential school tasks are addressed by a body who is elected by a small percent of the city's total population."
In the 2013 school board elections, approximately 11,000 people came out to vote. In 2010, around 7,000 people came out to vote. The City of Buffalo has more than 145,000 registered voters.
Grisanti said he believes a concentrated effort by city residents would help get the message to members of the Assembly.
"We, as citizens, should not have to accept the will of a small majority, some of whom are probably strongly influenced by special interest groups," he said. "Our children's futures are at stake. We should do whatever is possible to get more people involved in the selection process of who will decide how we spend our money and who we entrust with educating them. As a Buffalo resident and as an elected official, I feel it is our state government's responsibility to try and improve voter turnout. We can't force people to go vote, but we can attempt to improve the process and hold elections at a time of year when people are more inclined and more involved and aware of when elections are being held. I ask anyone who is passionate about our children's education to please contact their Assembly members today and get them on board."