By Scott Tibbs, August 24, 2011
The Indiana Legislature has decided to make a large number of elected officials illegitimate with an astonishingly stupid law removing the names of unopposed candidates from the ballot.
The good news is that Monroe County Clerk Linda Robbins has decided the county has some wiggle room and is permitted to place unopposed candidates on the ballot. This is a good thing. If this was not an option, it would drastically reduce the confidence of voters in their elected officials. In the upcoming Bloomington city election, Mayor Mark Kruzan, City Clerk Regina Moore and 5 of 6 Democrats running for district seats on the City Council would be "elected" to their positions without getting even one single vote.
But while counties have this option, that is not nearly good enough. What were the legislators in Indianapolis thinking?
I understand that not printing the names of unopposed candidates would save money in areas that use paper ballots, and at a time when many counties are struggling financially saving money is a laudable goal. But is having a mayor, city clerk or city councilor be "elected" to public office without even one single vote really a good idea? Do you think this helps or hurts the relationship between government and citizens?
Much like the Tea Party faction of the GOP, I am a philosophical libertarian. I believe government should be as limited as possible, and that government should spend as little as possible. But I am not an anarchist. Government must exist to provide a basic structure for society, provide basic ground rules for the market, and defend those who cannot defend themselves from predators and criminals.
Paying for elections and making sure that all of the candidates for elective office are on the ballot - whether they have an opponent or not - is a basic function of government that we need to find a way to finance. Even permitting (much less requiring) local government to remove the names of people from the ballot and have them automatically "elected" with absolutely no input from the citizens is a recipe for disaster. This removes the most important transparency we have in government - the right to know who we are electing.
The legislature needs to immediately come back into session and repeal this foolish and anti-democratic law.