Recently, there has been quite a bit of talk about the Amarillo City Council and how voters have begun discussing change. However, as some have been quick to point out, the issue with many city elections in Amarillo may not be the lack of quality candidates, but rather apathy of voters.
It is not disputed that apathy is a major problem in Amarillo. Even with a major special interest group pumping obscene amounts of money into this last municipal election, these races still showed extreme apathy among voters. There is one possible way to increase turnout: change the elections to November of even numbered years.
This may seem like a radical idea. However, it is not that radical at all. Many other cities in Texas and across the United States use November of even numbered years to hold their local elections. For the cities that do not hold their elections in even numbered years, some still hold their elections in November of odd numbered years when, in Texas, there are Texas Constitutional amendments on the ballot.
Texas law allows municipalities to call regular elections either in May or November of each year. And there is a precedence for holding Amarillo local elections in even numbered years. Up until the 2013 election, Amarillo College regents were elected in even numbered years. That was later changed to coincide with Amarillo's municipal elections.
Here are some numbers of turnout for Potter/Randall County voters during the three most recent Amarillo municipal elections:
2013 - Around 3,500 votes cast
2015 - Around 8,000 votes cast
2017 - Around 17,000 votes cast
Now, here are some numbers of turnout for Potter/Randall County votes during the three most recent even numbered year elections:
2012 - Around 75,000 votes cast
2014 - Around 40,000 votes cast
2016 - Around 82,000 votes cast
Here are also some numbers from November elections of odd numbered years:
2013 - Around 16,000 votes cast
2015 - Around 26,000 votes cast
2017 - Around 10,000 votes cast