City of Sarasota
Charter Amendment: Change in Date of Election of City Commissioners
“Changes City Commission elections from March and May in odd numbered years to
August and November in even numbered years to coincide with federal, state and
county elections. No candidate shall be elected in the August election. The August
election shall occur only when required by the number of qualifying candidates.
Otherwise, the November election shall be the only election. Changes Commission
appointment of Mayor and Vice Mayor to coincide with election dates.”
YES, for the Amendment
NO, against the Amendment
Read Proposed Amendment Language
Frequently asked questions (faQS)
Who are we?
A local group of volunteers, business owners, and organizations formed to address the expensive and low voter turnout in the March special city elections. The special March City elections have produced low turnout and are expensive costing the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars!
Repeatedly, a majority of the Sarasota City Commission has refused to allow voters to decide the date of the elections in a referendum. In response, a petition campaign was launched late last year advocating for the change, collected 4,732 signatures — 996 more than the required 3,736 signatures.
Why should voters be asked if they would like to move the City election date(s)?
During City elections, in the spring of odd-numbered years, voter turnout in the City of Sarasota is oftentimes below 20%. In the regular elections, it is two or three times higher.
Amongst all variables that effect voter turnout, it is the timing of elections that is the most significant. If approved, the local election dates would coincide with when these voters are already casting their ballots for other issues and offices (e.g., County Commission, School Board, State Representative, etc.).
Can I vote to change the date in the City?
The City elections are nonpartisan, would aligning the election emphasize partisanship in local races?
This is a nonpartisan matter that has received broad community support from both political parties, individuals and organizations. The election date would also match two other major non-partisan elections for Judicial Office and School Board.
How does moving the election impact turnout?
Turnout numbers in the municipal elections are bleak, historically only drawing from 15 to 23 percent of registered voters within the city, as compared from 50 to 70 percent turnout in November.
The Sarasota City Commission has already placed crucial Charter Amendments on the regularly scheduled November elections – and voting on this was over 2 times more than the March elections!
Are there any recent examples locally where moving the election has improved turnout?
The City of Bradenton moved its election from odd number years to even number years in 2010. Turnout within the City of Bradenton in 2009 was 14 percent. After the elections were moved, turnout increased to 71 percent in 2012, 53 percent in 2014, and 66 percent in 2016.
How will moving the election impact turnout among various demographics within the community?
Turnout often doubles or triples among various demographics as proven in the 2016 November elections and 2017 May elections.
In May 2017, the voter composition among African Americans was 3.99 percent compared to 9.7 percent in November of 2016. The trend is also consistent for the Hispanic and young voters. Voter composition among Hispanics was 1.98 percent in May compared to 5.55 percent in November.
Voter composition among voters 29 and younger nearly tripled in the November election with 3.79 percent of registered voters participating in 2017 compared to 10.86 percent in 2016.
Why does the City spend about $100,000 in election expenses to administer a separate election?
City elections must be held in March and May as dictated by the City Charter. Because the current system requires additional processes, the City must pay extra for its elections. For years, taxpayers have funded elections that provide less turnout for more money. Over the last decade, over a half million dollars have been spent to administer City elections.
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