Decide the Date Sarasota petition campaign receives Sarasota NAACP endorsement

Group working to move city elections from the spring to the fall

The Sarasota NAACP has endorsed Decide the Date Sarasota, a petition campaign with the goal of allowing Sarasota residents to decide whether they want to move the city elections from spring to fall, Decide the Date has announced.

Trevor D. Harvey, president of the Sarasota County Branch of the NAACP, says “the group fully endorses the Decide the Date campaign to place the charter-changing question on the ballot,” the release adds.

Decide the Date members are advocating for the municipal elections to be held in August and November of even-numbered years to coincide with gubernatorial, presidential and congressional races, instead of March and May of odd-numbered years.

“Voter turnout is consistently higher in November,” Harvey said in the release. “Not only does this [proposal] save taxpayers money, it also increases the overall participation in the African-American community by 86 percent.”

“If implemented, the shift to August and November elections is anticipated to help raise voter turnout for the city’s minority residents,” the release notes. According to data obtained from the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office, 3.99% of African-Americans voted in May 2017 for two at-large City Commission seats, compared to 9.7% who participated in the November 2016 Presidential Election.

Voter participation among Hispanics also has been higher in the fall elections, the website continues. In May 2017, 1.98% of registered Hispanics cast their votes in the city election runoff, compared to the 5.55% turnout in November 2016, the Supervisor of Elections Office data show.

Additionally, the 2017 city elections cost about $100,000, the release points out.

“We are proud to have earned the endorsement of Sarasota NAACP,” said Larry Eger, co-chair of Decide the Date, in the release. “They are powerful advocates for equality and civil rights in our community and the electoral process,” he added.

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