Jacksonville again mulls moving city elections to fall

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The idea has previously been a non-starter.

Jacksonville has had elections in the Spring for decades, but the appointed Charter Review Commission advocates change.

The appointed group, which convenes once a decade, recommended that elections be moved to the fall in its final report, released Friday.

The elections would still be “off-year” affairs, per the proposal from the clumsily-named Governmental Structure and Preserving Institutional Knowledge Committee, an ask that it resembles other such proposals that have not gotten through the City Council.

They contended that rescheduled elections would “make for more effective government when it comes to adopting the city’s annual budget.”

“Currently the budget is required by the Ordinance Code to be presented to the City Council by the Mayor on July 15th, yet the new Mayor and council have just been sworn in on July 1st. This creates a hardship every four years for newly elected officials as they have no time to deal with or understand the budget process before it is upon them.”

The budget process begins in the spring, meaning that in election years, incoming Council members have no real experience with the budget, and a schedule change “would result in greater opportunity for newly elected officials to become acclimated to the office as well as the budget process before beginning this very crucial task.”

Beyond smartening up newly elected Council members, the panel hopes that elections in the fall will smarten up voters, or at least get them to care enough to show up.

“In 2019, approximately 25% of registered voters voted in the First Election in March and only 14% at the General Election in May. There may still be a turnout issue in the fall of the “off year”, but the belief is that voters are used to voting in August and November, so turnout may improve in the fall, even though the election would not coincide with the presidential or gubernatorial elections.”

Indeed, 2019 was so lackluster that Democrats, who comprise a plurality of registered voters in Duval County, didn’t even bother to field a candidate.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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