Alabama voters have a complicated relationship with constitutional amendment referendums that turn up on their ballots on Election Day. There’s usually little in the way of voter awareness publicity, and the questions themselves are written in clunky government-ese that leaves many voters scratching their heads.
On March 3, there’s an important referendum — Amendment 1, which would change the makeup of the state’s board of education by seating board members by appointment.
This afternoon at 3 p.m. at the Westgate branch of the Dothan-Houston County Library, the League of Women Voters will host a forum to present both sides of Amendment 1. We urge any voter who’s in the dark about the amendment to take an hour or so to learn more.
There’s no doubt that public education in Alabama needs constructive change, and that drastic measures might be necessary.
However, Amendment 1’s first step would disenfranchise voters who elect state school board members by replacing election with appointment by the governor alone. The appointments would then go to the state Senate for confirmation. That’s a recipe for disaster, inviting cronyism, political favoritism or worse.
Today, state school board members are accountable to voters. Should Amendment 1 pass, that panel will be beholden to a single politician.
Voters should attend today’s forum and decide for themselves before they go to the polls March 3 — and as they exercise their right to be heard on Amendment 1, they should consider whether they really want to abdicate their right to vote on members of the state school board.