Very rarely do I disagree with 10 News reporter Noah Pransky. On privacy rights, red light cameras, the “stadium saga” in St. Petersburg, and several other issues, Pransky and I are simpatico.
But in regards to Pransky’s report that “Florida cities are burning your money to reduce voting,” I have to respectfully disagree.
There’s no disputing Pransky’s findings that “more than three-quarters of cities in Greater Tampa Bay hold their municipal elections in the fall of odd-numbered years, or in the spring.”
And there’s no arguing that there is a stark difference between turnout in presidential elections (above 50 percent) and voter turnout in local elections (15 percent).
But correlation does not imply causation. Or more specifically, Pransky — despite his figures about cost and statistics about turnout — does not show that cities are holding their elections in odd-numbered years to “reduce voting.”
Pransky relies on a quote from Lori Edwards, supervisor of elections in Polk County, to reach this conclusion.
“I think when you have lower turnout, you have more informed voters,” Edwards said.
Of course, this doesn’t mean Edwards wants fewer voters to cast a ballot … she just wants those who are voting in municipal elections to be voting about municipal elections — and not because of who is at the top of the ballot.
This is why, as Pransky notes, the Florida League of Cities opposes a bill from state Rep. Matt Caldwell that would force 250 Florida cities to move their elections to the fall.
Again, I’m not saying turnout in odd-numbered is ideal. And, yes, the cost per vote in these elections is relatively expensive, but the candidates and issues which drive local elections should not be drowned out by presidential races.
When you elect your mayor, it should have nothing to do with the fact that a Hillary Clinton or a Donald Trump is on the ballot.