Posted on 19 December 2018 by LeslieM

RE: Changing Municipal Elections

Dear Editor,

Deerfield Beach Municipal elections occur in March, every other year. Municipalities must pay for separate elections versus holding them in November. Many municipalities switched to November resulting in a cost savings. Now, for the March 2019 election, only five cities are participating: Sea Ranch Lakes, Miramar, Pembroke Park, Coconut Creek and Deerfield Beach. Due to the lack of participation, costs have increased from $55,742 in 2015 to $86,316 for 2019. Should another municipality decide to switch to November, costs are predicted to sky rocket. It is also important to keep in mind that this election is only for Districts 1 & 2; costs for March 2021 are estimated to be between $110,000 – $120,000. For the record, between 2015 and our next election in 2019, the cost to administer a separate election in Deerfield Beach will have soared by 155 percent. That is substantial cost growth… [In addition, the numbers show a much greater turnout in a November election versus March.] Our local government should be doing everything possible to ensure higher voter participation. Another benefit of November elections is the added early voting days that March elections do not offer.

At the Nov. 13 commission meeting, eight citizens spoke on this issue with five recommending changing back to November elections that would benefit the city with higher turnouts and lower costs. The remaining three felt that the March election allowed voters to focus on the city and the cost was “just part of doing business.” Mayor Ganz stated that the March elections are in the City Charter; however, the State Legislature revised the statute — the date of elections could be changed by municipalities with an ordinance versus a referendum typically required for charter changes. Commissioner Parness mentioned that statistics show that those at the top of the ballot got the most attention and as you go down the ballot, that attention goes down because voters “get tired,” [saying] by the time you get to the city elections, at the bottom of the ballot, “You’re lucky if you get 10 votes.” The Commission voted unanimously to maintain the city election in March.

Are Deerfield Beach voters lazy or uncaring? Can we take enough time to read to the bottom of the ballot? More voters, additional time, shorter lines due to more voting days and lower costs. What is not to like in revising our voting date to coincide with November elections?

Glenn Sullivan

Deerfield Beach

[Editor’s Note: Rebecca Medina, Public Affairs and Marketing Director for the city, responded to this with the following: “While five individuals recommended changing the election from March to November, it was five out of 44,333 registered voters with at least three individuals publicly asking to leave the elections the way they are, and while they weren’t in Commission on the evening in question I know many other residents who prefer to leave our elections to March.

In our most recent November election, the whole country watched the chaos and uncertainty that occurred in Broward County. Why would we want to take chances like that with our municipal elections, we get to avoid all of that by holding our elections in March. Furthermore, the March election is only three months away, and those who brought this up at a recent Commission meeting are involved in a local political campaign. This is a debate that should be discussed in a non-election year.”]

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