Counties: Courts, Not Legislature, Proper Venue to Address Grievances with Representative Structures

MACo Legislative Director Kevin Kinnally yesterday testified before the House Ways and Means Committee in opposition to HB 655 Local Government – County Commissioner Elections – District Voting. This bill requires that the election of a county commissioner to represent a specific county commissioner district must be decided by a plurality of the votes cast within that district.

Counties are concerned this one-size-fits-all approach would infringe on local autonomy and flexibility in local governance. In American jurisprudence, the proper venue to remedy any defect in district-drawing or representative structures is the courts, rather than a superior political body.

From the MACo Testimony:

The method and structure of county elections are matters reasonably left to those governed. Currently, that authority is properly vested in county governing bodies, regardless of their local structure of governance. County commissioners are elected at-large, by district, or by a combination of these methods. This bill would usurp local authority by requiring the election of a commissioner to represent a specific district to be decided by a plurality of votes cast within that district.

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2021 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.