LITTLE ROCK — The Senate on Wednesday approved a bill to require most special elections to coincide with primary or general elections when possible.


Senators voted 18-11 to approve Senate Bill 723 by Sen. David Wallace, R-Leachville, which would require a special election to be held on the same date as a primary or general election if the special election is called in an election year.


If a special election is called in a nonelection year, it would be held either on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in May or the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.


The measure would not apply to special elections to fill vacancies in office or special runoff elections. It would apply to school millage elections.


The bill goes to the House.


Last week, the House approved House Bill 1621 by Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, which would move annual school board elections, but not school millage elections, to the same dates as general or primary elections, or the corresponding dates in nonelection years. That bill has been sent to the Senate Education Committee.


Wallace told senators Wednesday while presenting his bill, “The upside is we’re going to get a larger voter turnout. People are not going to say after a special election, ‘What did we do?’ And we’re going to save a little money.”


Speaking against the bill, Sen. Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock, said that when Pulaski County held a special election on the same day as a regular election to save money, it discovered the district boundaries determining who could vote in each election did not line up.


“It is not as simple as it sounds,” she said.