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.
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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.