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ABC7 Editorial: Voter Turnout in March Election

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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) -- This week the City of Sarasota held elections for at-large commissioners. By way of background, there are two at-large seats and three districts seats on the commission.

I know this is not a new story, but voter turnout for these March elections is embarrassingly low. Literally less than 20% of the city's registered voters showed up at the polls.

More important than the fact that we are wasting a lot of money, is the fact that these low--practically no--turnout efforts are not representative of the majority.

What they are representative of is apathy on the part of the public and manipulation on the part of the political parties.

When you break down the voter turnout by district, the numbers are even more alarming.

In district one, for example, only 11% turnout--that is a disgrace. So here is what I would like to know. Why in the name of representative democracy are we holding these elections in March and not in November?

One argument is the 20% who do show up to vote are somehow more qualified and informed than the 80% who do not--that notion is elitist at best and prejudicial at worst.

Another is that the city needs the race to be at the top of the ballot so it doesn't get lost or confused along party lines--that too is total bunk because at the end of the day more votes are more votes.

So what's the bottom line? It is high time for another referendum to move the election to November. If republican and democrat party leaders in the city got behind this on a non-partisan basis, we could get a referendum passed and restore confidence and participation in the election of our city commissioners.

If they do not, one is left to wonder who really benefits from these non-representative March elections? The people or the insiders who pick a handful of special-interests candidates to get into office with fewer votes than it took to get elected to class president when I was in high school.