I was sitting at my favorite coffee location this morning reading an actual paper version of the Tampa Tribune – yes, I am still sans laptop – when I saw a GREAT headline:
Miller Wants Fall Elections
It seems she wasn’t happy that only 1 in 6 registered voters in Tampa bothered to show up on election day. Finally, she has a chance to lead on an issue. And it’s a good idea to boot.
The article goes in to some detail about the history of why Tampa votes in the Spring. It seems that then-Councilwoman Jan Platt thought it would be a good idea because “few people paid attention to council races.” Oh, it’s so MUCH better now.
Now, there are some challenges with moving the election. First, the voters would have to approve it. Second, they would have to lengthen or shorten the current terms to make the shift to the fall.
However, Mayor Iorio thinks it should be held in off-years. That is a bad idea. The problem is that no one pays attention when there isn’t a broad general election involving races at all levels of government. Moving it to fall of odd years won’t increase voter participation THAT much. (Besides, Madam Mayor, you’re going to run for County Mayor in 2010 anyway – so the next City Mayor’s term should coincide with that election anyway.)
So, here is how I would do it:
1. The City Council should vote to put a referendum on the November 2008 ballot to change the election from the Spring to the Fall. The referendum would shorten the terms from Spring 2011 to Fall 2010, and elections would be held in even-numbered years.
2. The “primary” election would be held with the primary in September, just like ALL of the other non-partisan races (judge, school board, special districts, etc). [With the caveat that if there are only two candidates for an office, like the Mulhern-Harrison race – that race would be on the general election ballot. And in this case, write-ins would not count.]
3. The “runoff” would be held with the general election in November, just like the runoff for ALL of the other non-partisan races.
There you have it. Increased turnout. Saving taxpayers money. Win-Win.
Not sure what PoHo thinks about it, tho. A link to the story was listed in today’s Morning Roundup – in which he is “trembling, trembling, trembling….”