Timing and Turnout
How Off-Cycle Elections Favor Organized Groups
University of Chicago Press 2013
Sarah Anzia is the author of Timing and Turnout: How Off-Cycle Elections Favor Organized Groups (University of Chicago Press, 2013). Anzia is assistant professor of public policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC-Berkeley.
Why are some elections held in November and others in May, June, or July? Why are some elections timed to correspond with the congressional schedule, but others on odd years? When elections occur has long been known to strongly relate to voter turnout, but little research has pushed beyond this simple conclusion.
Anzia’s book explores the motivations behind moving local elections from “on-cycle” – held to correspond with presidential or congressional elections in November — to “off-cycle”. She explores the history of the issue and the ways Progressive Era reformers saw advantages in holding municipal elections separate from national and state elections. She tracks that history up to today with excellent data on the relationship between when an election is held and certain policy outcomes. She finds that interest groups stand to benefit from off-cycle election. Teacher pay is substantially higher in school districts that hold elections off-cycle, rather than on.