School board elections: Who votes?


Photo courtesy of: Prayitno


Keith Stone co-editor-in-chief
School board elections have become increasingly closer in results over the last couple of years. As the number of votes deciding the victors becomes smaller and smaller, who is allowed to vote has become increasingly important. Legally, people who live in Beverly Hills are allowed to vote in school board elections, but this should not be the case.
Adults who do not have children attending a Beverly Hills school that is regulated by the school board should not be allowed to cast votes that would potentially influence election outcomes. In the most recent school board election of 2015, Isabel Hacker won the most votes with 1,625 with Mel Spitz coming in second with 1,561 votes. After him, Noah Margo had 1,365 votes and Carter Paysinger had 1,279. Paysinger lost out on the chance to become a school board member because 86 people thought Margo would fit their needs better. In 2011, 21,635 people were able to vote and only 26.49 percent of those people actually did. With such a small number of people determining victory or defeat with their votes, every single voter should represent a parent with a student in a Beverly Hills school.
A general lack of knowledge on critical issues is a huge problem for American voters for something as important as the presidential election, so for something significantly less important, like school board elections, a lack of knowledge is a far bigger issue. People who don’t have children in the Beverly Hills schools will not be motivated to do research and decide which candidate is best for student; instead, they will simply vote for who they like more. No research or effort is needed when their vote barely affects them. However, parents of Beverly Hills students will at least find out basic facts before deciding who to vote for, because their children will be directly affected by policies the school board makes. It is easy to complain about Beverly Hills’ schools, but the easier solution is just to remove apathetic people from the voting pool.
The chief argument for everybody who lives in the district being allowed to vote is that the value of their home is affected by the quality of the schools. However, this argument is invalid for almost all of the home owners because the caliber of the school has to drastically change to affect home prices and very few people are willing to look far in advance. Many people who don’t have kids at the schools simply just do not care.
In the next school board election, people should only be allowed to vote if they have children who attend a school in the district. This will prevent votes from being cast by those who have not researched and could positively affect the schools in the district, the children of the district and home values.