Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Let Voters Decide Election Schedule | Put the Question on City of Sarasota's Ballot

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Let Voters Decide Election Schedule | Put the Question on City of Sarasota's Ballot

Article excerpt

OUR VIEW

A majority of the Sarasota City Commission took an overdue step in January toward asking voters whether to change the municipal election schedule.

Commissioners wisely delayed a final decision until the Florida Legislature ended its annual session. They wanted to see if legislators passed a bill that would have given the state control over the timing of local elections. Fortunately, the bill failed.

On Monday's City Commission agenda is a second hearing for a proposed ordinance endorsed by three of five commissioners three months ago. If it is approved again, it will be on city ballots during the November general election.

Voters in Sarasota deserve the opportunity to consider the pros and cons of changing the status quo -- and then to vote on whether to make a change. We urge the City Commission to give them that chance.

The election of Sarasota city commissioners has long occurred in the spring of odd-numbered years, when there are few, if any, other items on ballots. Some citizens and commissioners sensibly want to ask voters if they favor moving to an even-year cycle when county, state and federal races are contested in November -- and voter- participation rates rise substantially.

City governance has long suffered from a lack of turnout during the March/May schedule for elections, which usually draw around 20 percent or less of eligible participants. In 2013, when Sarasota elected two at-large commissioners, all 35,618 of the city's registered voters were eligible to cast ballots. Only 7,113, less than 20 percent, did so.

In contrast, November elections in even years tend to attract anywhere from 50 percent (when the governor's race is on the ballot) to nearly 80 (when the presidency is at stake). In 2012, several fairly mundane questions on city policy -- placed at the end of a long November ballot -- attracted about 20,000 Sarasota voters, almost 60 percent of those registered. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.