Advantages and Disadvantages of “From-Trustee Area” and “By-Trustee Area” Election Systems for School Board Elections
The California Education Code provides three, statutorily prescribed alternate electionmethods for local school boards: (a) “at large,” wherein the voters of the entire districtcan vote for any of the trustees, regardless of residency area; (b) “by-trustee area,” wherein the candidates must reside in the trustee area where they are running and only voters residing in that area may vote for those particular candidates; and (c) “from-trustee area,” wherein the candidates must reside in the trustee area where they arerunning but are elected by the voters of the entire school district.These alternate election systems have both advantages and disadvantages, and whichsystem is “right” for a particular district will depend on the unique circumstances of each district.
“From-Trustee Area” Election Method
Trustee’s representation is notconfined to just his/her trusteearea, and therefore allTrustees must consider thegood of the entire district.
If a district is very large, sometrustees may never get to know parts of their district-wideconstituencies.2.
There is a bigger candidatepool, allowing voters to choosefrom a broader base of candidates and to supportcandidates from outside theimmediate area where they live.
It can be more expensive andtime-consuming for Trusteesto campaign.
Where the school board isalready broadly representativeof various school districtcommunities of interest,including racial and ethnicminorities, there may be no
Where the school board is not broadly representative of various school districtcommunities of interest,including racial and ethnicminorities, the election system
Throughout U.S. history, local communities’ preferences of one system over another have alternated dueto ever-changing perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of each system. For example, the early twentieth century’s Progressive reforms ushered in the widespread replacement of “by-trustee area”systems with at-large and hybrid systems (including “from-trustee area” systems) due to the belief that at-large elections would generate more qualified (and less easily corruptible) candidates than district basedelections. Later in the century, however, at-large systems were challenged as part of the civil rightsmovement, particularly in areas where racial and ethnic minorities were underrepresented on local boards. More recently, certain respected scholars active in the voting rights field have criticized “by-trustee area” elections as a type of false “reform” in that they merely shift the effects of racial prejudicefrom the voting booth to the governmental body (i.e., minorities, even if elected in a particular district,can be routinely outvoted by the majority members of the board).