The mayors of the two biggest cities in southwest Florida are calling for even-year elections. They believe, holding elections in Fort Myers and Cape Coral in odd-numbered years, reduces voter turnout.
"It is disheartening to work so hard on a campaign, and to get very low turnout. It was under 8 percent for the primary in the cities, just 10 days ago," says Ft. Myers Mayor Randy Henderson.
"We need to go to even-numbered years to get more voter interest," he says.
Cape Coral Mayor John Sullivan agrees. He tells WINK News: "People do not realize the importance of local elections. If they do not turn out and vote, they give up their apportunity to have a say on who runs the city government. Then, special interest groups take over and they get to say, who runs the city."
Lee supervisor of elections Sharon Harrington was not in her office Friday, but she has told WINK News that city elections tend to get lost in even years, when they compete for attention against races for Governor, U.S. Senator, and President.
She says people focus on those big, high-profile races in the even years, and then tend to ignore the races at the bottom of the ballot, such as city contests.
Harrington also worries about lengthening the ballot, which was a major cause of the super-long lines at the polls last November.
Still, Mayor Henderson says he will keep fighting to change the current cycle of elections.
"We need that turnout in the even years, and I believe if we give people enough early voting opportunities, and keep the ballot from getting too long, then we can do it, and the cities can benefit from having a lot of people participating in the elections process," Henderson tells WINK News.