SARASOTA, Fla. (Jan. 18, 2018) – Decide the Date Sarasota, a petition campaign to empower city of Sarasota residents with the decision on whether they want to move general city elections from spring to fall has been endorsed by the Sarasota Chapter of the ACLU of Florida.
Pete Tannen, chapter president, says that the group fully supports the efforts of Decide the Date. “A major goal for the ACLU is to make it easier for Floridians to vote, not harder,” Tannen said. “The evidence overwhelmingly indicates that voters in the city of Sarasota find it more desirable to vote in the fall. As such, they should be given the option to choose whether or not to have their city elections align with that preference.”
If successful, the petition campaign would place the question on a ballot that would provide city voters with that choice. If implemented, the shift to August and November elections is anticipated to significantly increase voter turnout for city elections. According to the Sarasota Supervisor of Elections, during the 2017 second city election in the spring, where two commissioners were elected, turnout amongst city voters was 22.86 percent. Just six months prior, during the 2016 general election in the fall, turnout amongst city voters was 71.91 percent.
The proposed change is also anticipated to help increase the percentage of ballots cast by the city’s minority residents. According to additional data obtained from the Sarasota Supervisor of Elections, in the 2017 second city election, 3.99 percent of ballots cast were by African American voters. During the 2016 general election in the fall, that percentage jumped to 9.68 percent. Voter participation among Hispanics also went up in the fall. In the spring, 1.98 percent of votes came from Hispanics, but that number was 5.54 percent in the fall of 2016.
Moving municipal races to the regular fall election cycle would also save city taxpayers almost $100,000 every cycle.
“The endorsement from the Sarasota Chapter of the ACLU of Florida is extremely important to us,” said Larry Eger, co-chair of Decide the Date. “The organization has long-since championed more inclusive elections and our efforts align closely with that pursuit.”
About the ACLU:
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep the promise of the Bill of Rights alive for every American. Since its founding in 1920, the nonprofit, nonpartisan ACLU has grown from a roomful of civil liberties activists to an organization of over 500,000 members and supporters, with offices in almost every state. The Sarasota Chapter of the ACLU serves Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties. With over 3,600 members, it is one of the largest, fastest-growing and most active ACLU chapters in all of Florida. For more information, visit https://sarasota.aclufl.org/
About Decide the Date Sarasota:
Decide the Date is a bipartisan, grassroots coalition of local volunteers, business owners, and organizations formed to address the low voter turnout in the city elections. Larry Eger, a longtime Sarasota resident and elected public defender for the 12th Judicial Circuit, is serving as co-chair of the grassroots effort along with former two-term City of Sarasota Mayor Suzanne Atwell. For more information, or to download the petition, visit www.DecideTheDate.com