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Citing Cost and Turnout, Palm Coast Approves Voting and Election-Cycle Changes

| March 15, 2011

Early but not often.

The Palm Coast City Council Tuesday morning unanimously approved reducing polling locations from 21 to six in the coming city election on Nov. 8. It’s a cost-saving move. Voters will no longer have to vote in their own precinct. They’ll be able to vote at any of the six locations.

The council also approved a two-week early-voting window. Last week it discussed limiting early voting to a week, to save money, and holding early voting at the Supervisor of Elections office in Bunnell. Neither of these options appealed to council members. It costs the city $3,100 a week to run early voting. Council members were willing to double that, and hold early voting at the Flagler County Public Library on Belle Terre Parkway.

The council also approved placing a referendum on the November ballot to move city elections to even years. That’s designed to increase turn-out and reduce costs. The city stands to save upwards of $100,000 by merging its election cycle to general elections. Turnout in city elections has been under 20 percent. Turnout is three to four times higher in general elections.

Should voters approve the referendum, the terms of council members Frank Meeker and Bill Lewis would be extended by a year, and the terms of those elected in November would also last five years rather than four, in order to re-set terms in sync with even-year elections. All subsequent terms would last four years. (Council members are paid $9,600 a year, the mayor $11,400 a year.)

All three votes were unanimous and entailed minimal discussion. The council debated the issues at its previous meeting, last week.

The council also appointed Vivian Richardson to join City Clerk Virginia Smith on the city’s canvassing board. That board certifies absentee ballots and election results and ensures that absentee ballots are delivered to the Flagler County Supervisor of Elections. Lewis and Meeker had considered being appointed, but withdrew their name Tuesday morning.

Richardson ran against Holsey Moorman in the 2007 city election. Moorman, 69 at the time, defeated her with 67 percent of the vote. Richardson, 70, retired from a secretarial job at Daytona Beach Community College.

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8 Responses for “Citing Cost and Turnout, Palm Coast Approves Voting and Election-Cycle Changes”

  1. kmedley says:

    I for one am thankful the early voting will be held at the library. That makes the most sense for Palm Coast residents. I think the city could have gotten by with just one week of early voting, but it is what it is. The city will save money and will not have to endure conffrontational meetings.

  2. Joe says:

    I for one will not support a five year term for any reason.

  3. Rob says:

    Ditto Joe,
    I am not supporting 5 years. Five years is way too long, even four years in office is pushing the envelope.

    Three years should be the max, even though the three year cycle would fall on an even year every other election.
    Different leaders with different perspectives wouldn’t hurt this city at all.

    • FlaglerLive says:

      Just a clarification: the council is not proposing permanent five-year terms. Only two current terms, and three to be elected in November, would, on a one-time basis, be extended to five years in order to make the switch to even-year elections. Jon Netts did raise the possibility of going the other way–cutting the terms short by one year. That brief discussion didn’t appeal to any of the council members. If that alternative were applied–if they were cut short to three years and voters agreed to the general-election cycle–the Meeker-Lewis seats would have come up for a vote in 2012, the three other seats would have come up again in 2014.

  4. Rob says:

    Yes. I understood about the one time extension.

    Even one five year term is too long.

    The scenario of shortening terms crossed my mind however I didn’t think that the councilors would acquiesce to reducing their terms and that appears to be the case.

  5. Joe says:

    I also understood the one time extension. I like the alternative option, cut short to three years and have the Meeker-Lewis seats come up for a vote in 2012, the three other seats would come up again in 2014.

  6. Go Joe says:

    The vote has been cast, and the damage already done by these yahoo council members that currently hold office. I agree with Joe, shorten their terms by one year. One less year of putting up with Landons disinterest in bringing jobs to Palm Coast i.e. Koala! These coucil members will be in office an additional year. Enough time to build the new 10 million dollar City Hall, club Netts. As with the current administration in Washington, they aren’t listening to what the majority of the people in the city or country are saying.

  7. Rob says:

    Go Joe the referendum has not been passed yet. If the voters get their heads out of the buts and vote it down then there won’t be an extension of terms.

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