Home>Governor>Abysmal April school board election turnout ‘unacceptable,’ Murphy says

Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Abysmal April school board election turnout ‘unacceptable,’ Murphy says

Governor not ready to suggest reforms

By Nikita Biryukov, April 21 2021 2:55 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy decried abysmal turnout in a small number of school board races held Tuesday, but he stopped short of calling for those contests to coincide with other elections.

“I don’t have a crisp answer to what do you do about turnout at off-cycle elections, like school board elections in April, but I have to say, without question, the turnout as low as those numbers … that’s an unacceptable level of turnout, no matter which side of which candidate you’re on,” he said at Wednesday’s virus briefing.

With 76 of the city’s 93 districts reporting results, there were just 2,506 votes cast for a ballot question approving a tax to fund Newark schools. That’s turnout of about 4.4%, though it was nearly 5% in a race to fill an unexpired term on the city’s Board of Education.

Most New Jersey municipalities run school board elections in time with other races in May, June or November.

That practice allows them to boost turnout. It also eliminates the cost of running an election divorced from any others.

Murphy, however, declined to say whether the state should eliminate the option of holding April races.

“I’m not sure I’ve got a crisp ‘and this is what we’re going to do.’ In fact, I don’t, but that’s something that should not be. Again, nobody’s fault. These things get very little airtime,” he said, adding they deserved more.

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