What do you call it when only one person runs for office? An uncontested election. It seems like this must be a bad thing, and also that it is increasing in frequency. Is it?
It seems, given the explanation about removing term limits at the last Interbel Meeting, that the situation is at least increasing in the telephone cooperatives. Watching the local school board shows a similar trend.
How common are they by state? The data’s a bit hard to find- but at least some of it is out there. According to ballotpedia.org in 2020, 100% of Wisconsin’s local elections were uncontested. This seems a bit high- and they didn’t cover the local elections for Montana, so we can’t compare.
That said, Massachusetts had 100% for state executive and 75% for state legislative. Alabama and North Dakota were 100% for state judicial. If it’s showing up at the state level, where it really ought to be easier to find two candidates, uncontested elections are likely more frequent at lower levels.
Is this a bad thing? There’s an argument that electing (appointing?) the same people over and over ensures that an experienced person holds the position. However, there’s also an argument that doing so increases the likelihood of solving today’s problems with yesterday’s solutions.
And, if the outcome is predetermined, why show up and vote? Our cooperatives have attempted to solve member disengagement by reducing the number required for a quorum. It’s a treatment- but it doesn’t consider any of the underlying causes.