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Press Release
A Move to Reform Municipal Elections in Florida is Underway

A Move to Reform Municipal Elections in Florida is Underway

In an effort to increase voter turnout, cities across Florida are reforming their elections. The 2018 general election will give voters in Gainesville and in Sarasota the opportunity to align municipal elections with the regular, biennial federal, state, and county elections already happening in those communities.

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by Oct 12, 2018 No Comments
Opinion
Editorial: Time to change date of city elections

Editorial: Time to change date of city elections

For years, Sarasota City commissioners refused to give voters a voice regarding a fundamental matter of governance: voting schedules. The commission repeatedly rejected pleas to allow city residents to vote on whether to maintain the status quo or change the dates of municipal elections.

Thanks to citizens who took matters into their own hands, in the 2018 general election city voters will decide if they want to change the dates.

Finally.

Sarasota has long had stand-alone elections in March, with frequent runoffs in May, in odd-numbered years. Voter participation has been consistently low, frequently under or just over 20 percent. An extreme example: In 2011 only 1,234 voters in District 1 elected of one of the five commissioners, when the district had 8,300 eligible voters in a city with a total of 35,480 registrants.

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by Oct 8, 2018 No Comments
Opinion
Tryon: Forum puts spotlight on 3 local initiatives

Tryon: Forum puts spotlight on 3 local initiatives

Direct democracy will compete with representative democracy on general election ballots in Florida.

Yes, there will be key exercises in representative democracy between the dispatch of mail ballots starting Oct. 2 and voting at the polls Nov. 6: think high-profile elections for U.S. Senate and House, as well as governor.

But Floridians will have numerous opportunities to engage in direct democracy through ballot initiatives.

Statewide, 12 proposed amendments will decided by voters.

In Sarasota County, voters can double their fun: Six proposed amendments to the county charter will be on the ballot; North Port voters will also consider an overhaul of their municipal charter and, in Sarasota, voters will determine the outcome of a proposal to change the dates of City Commission elections.

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by Sep 24, 2018 No Comments
Opinion
Current Election Schedule Fails Sarasota’s Electorate

Current Election Schedule Fails Sarasota’s Electorate

I read with disappointment the letter that appeared in Monday’s edition of SRQ Daily regarding the proposal to move City election dates.

As the Public Defender for the 12th Judicial Circuit, my professional calling requires I avoid supposition, half-truths and fear mongering, which was the basis of the writer’s argument.

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by Sep 23, 2018 No Comments
Local News
Sarasota No Leader in Voter Participation

Sarasota No Leader in Voter Participation

The effort to reschedule Sarasota’s city elections officially moved from its petition drive stage into a full-fledged campaign for change, this week launching anew as Change the Date Sarasota. And while a campaign announcement touts the bipartisan organization and the chance to strengthen turnout and improve the diversity of the active electorate, it’s important as well to remember his modest and unremarkable the proposed change could be for the city.

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by Sep 10, 2018 No Comments
Press Release
New Campaign Launches to Advocate for Sarasota City Charter Amendment: Change the Date Sarasota

New Campaign Launches to Advocate for Sarasota City Charter Amendment: Change the Date Sarasota

Change the Date Sarasota is a new bipartisan campaign effort within the community that formed to advocate for the passage of the City Charter Amendment: Change in Date of Election of City Commissioners.  This campaign evolved from the Decide the Date Sarasota petition campaign to place the initiative on the ballot, which launched in December 2017.

The group behind the new campaign consists of local volunteers and the area’s prominent business, community, and civil rights organizations that support the charter amendment to change the date of the city elections in Sarasota to coincide with state, federal and county elections.

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by Sep 5, 2018 No Comments
Local News
Ballot language set for election-date referendum

Ballot language set for election-date referendum

In November, city voters will see a proposal on their ballots to amend the city charter to change the dates of municipal elections.

The summary of the charter amendment will read as follows:

“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.”

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by Jul 18, 2018 No Comments
Local News
Sarasota commission terms to be extended if voters change election dates

Sarasota commission terms to be extended if voters change election dates

SARASOTA — Current city commissioners will have their terms extended by nearly two years if Sarasota voters decide this fall to change the dates of city elections.

The commission decided last week to temporarily extend commission terms by 18 months to phase in a potential election date shift should voters in November choose to change the dates of city elections from March and May of odd years to August and November of even years to coincide with federal, state, county and district elections.

Decide the Date, a local campaign that launched a petition last year advocating for the change, collected 4,732 signatures to put the issue before voters on Nov. 6. The referendum will ask voters whether they support moving city elections. The commission will decide on the ballot referendum language at its July 2 meeting.

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by Jun 25, 2018 No Comments
Local News
Proposed change in City of Sarasota election cycle to be on Nov. 6 General Election ballot

Proposed change in City of Sarasota election cycle to be on Nov. 6 General Election ballot

On split votes this week, the Sarasota City Commission approved the inclusion of a referendum on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot that will allow city voters to decide if they want to change the timing of city elections.

Additionally, if the measure passes, the majority of the board members agreed to extend the terms of the three incumbents for 18 months. If voters approve the change, the next election to fill the three district seats would be in November 2020, instead of May 2019, as planned. Additionally, the terms of the two at-large commissioners — which are set to expire in May 2021 — would be extended to November 2022.

Both Vice Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch and Commissioner Willie Shaw voted “No” on each of the motions.

The referendum will allow city voters to choose August and November as the months for city elections, instead of March and May. Decide the Date leaders and supporters have pointed to lower voter turnout — especially among Hispanics, African-Americans and young people — during the spring elections.

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by Jun 25, 2018 No Comments
Opinion
Editorial: Commission majority honors voters’ will

Editorial: Commission majority honors voters’ will

When two Sarasota city commissioners failed this week to fulfill their obligations and support placement of a fundamental question of governance on the November ballot, they epitomized the arrogance that has long prevailed at City Hall regarding elections.

For years, commissioners and majorities of their appointees have opposed asking voters whether to change their city’s charter and voting schedule to coincide with other election cycles — in part to increase public participation.

Valid arguments can be, and have been, made about the status quo — in which city commissioners are elected in “stand-alone” elections conducted during the spring of odd-numbered years — and the proposition to move municipal voting to even-numbered years, when local, state and national races are decided. Voter turnout in the stand-alone elections has generally been low; participation in even-year elections, when high-profile races are on the ballot, has been higher, especially in November.

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by Jun 22, 2018 No Comments