May 28, 2024

MEDIA CONTACT: Alan Durning, Sightline Institute, 

FULL ARTICLE: The Bizarre Red-Blue Politics of Election Consolidation  

SEATTLE, WA – Election consolidation (moving local elections to the same November ballot as national elections) boosts turnout more than any other effort, often doubling participation in local elections. The reform has widespread support among the organized right and the organized left. 

To date, however, election consolidation has been more bizarre-partisan than bipartisan. In a rare pattern of role reversals, proposals come from Republicans in red states and Democrats in blue states, according to new research from the nonpartisan think tank Sightline Institute. 

  • Almost every state election consolidation proposal in living memory has split legislators along party lines. In red states such as Arizona, Montana, and Tennessee, Republicans vote yea and Democrats vote nay. In blue states such as Washington and New York, vice versa. 
  • Proponents and opponents recite the same arguments for and against election consolidation.  
  • The reform’s support is mile-wide and inch-deep: even among the all-star bipartisan roster of organizations that endorse it, it’s almost no one’s priority.  
  • Election consolidation appears to be a boon to neither the left nor the right, though it routinely doubles turnout and yields a much younger electorate. 

Lead author of the research and executive director of Sightline Institute Alan Durning found that these patterns could be a byproduct of negative partisanship: elected officials guessing which electoral reforms will help or hurt their team in reaction to which side proposed a given piece of legislation. 

“If negative partisanship is the main thing driving legislators to polarize in their current state-by-state patchwork formation, it actually bodes well for continuing the consolidation of local elections,” said Durning. “Patient and diplomatic reformers may be able to navigate the tides using the rarest of things in 21st-century politics: bipartisan coalitions.”   

Read the full analysis: The Bizarre Red-Blue Politics of Election Consolidation  



Alan Durning is the founder and Executive Director of Sightline Institute. His current topics of focus include democracy reform and housing affordability. Find his latest research here. 

Sightline Institute is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank providing leading original analysis of democracy, forests, energy, and housing policy in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, British Columbia, and beyond. 

May 28, 2024