Elections to Stay in May

City Council has refused to endorse any changes to the Council election dates. They are currently held in May on even-numbered years, but many people believe that November would be a more logical time to hold the elections to ensure greater turn-out, consolidating efforts, lowering costs, and more. Richmond and Virginia Beach are making the change to November to match the schedule that is used by most of the state. Some Democrats believe that holding a special election results a better-informed electorate; Republicans point out that holding a special election helps Democrats maintain their long-standing hold on all five Council seats. WINA has the story.

8 thoughts on “Elections to Stay in May”

  1. It’s very hard to make a coherent argument that moving the elections to November would help elect more Republicans in Charlottesville. Charlottesville voters overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates for November state and national elections. At least with May elections local Republicans have a chance to run on their own merits and not suffer a reverse-coattail effect from all those right-wing ideologues and other miscreants (like Ollie North) who usually top their November tickets.

  2. I’d like to compare turnout of Republicans vs. Democrats in May elections vs. November elections. Anybody have those numbers? (Or speculation, which is the next best thing? ;)

  3. so are the republicans implying that a better-informed electorate gets more democrats elected?

    i thought the argument for moving it to november was that may elections were expensive and had a lower voter turn-out.

  4. The suggestion to move the elections to November was made by the city Electoral Board. The primary reason they made the suggestion is that finding volunteers to work at the polls on election day is becoming very difficult. By moving the election from May to November they would have less trouble staffing the polling places. This is a very real problem and will continue to worsen. Many of the people who do volunteer are getting on in age. The cost and turnout issues were not as important to the Electoral Board as the staffing issue.

    I do not think moving the elections would have any effect on the Republicans chances of winning or losing. They will do just as poorly in November as they do in May.

    I also don’t think that there will be any difference in the amount of interest in the City Council election. Only a small fraction of those who vote in the May elections (a small fraction of those who live in Charlottesville) really know very much about the isues or the candidates. That same pitifully small group of people are going to pay attention and attend the City Council candidate forums whether the elections are held in May or in November. This group of interested, civic minded people are quite capable of keeping the issues sorted out and will not confuse state, national, and local issues as some opponents of the change have suggested. The ignorant ones are going to stay that way and aren’t going to become any more ignorant or more informed because of the change.

    Kevin Cox

  5. Unless I’m mistaken, Council has simply refused to vote on this. Which strikes me as odd. Why wouldn’t they take a vote? There’s been a lot of discussion about it, Council is certainly aware of the ramifications of moving the date (or not moving the date), and they’d intended to vote on it this month. If they didn’t want to move it, they would have voted not to, and that would have been that.

    I have a feeling that I’m missing something: could anybody tell me why they simply didn’t take a vote?

  6. Procedurally, they didn’t have to vote. Last night they were just deciding whether to move the ordinance (shifting elections to November) to a second reading two weeks later, when an actual vote would’ve been taken. To go to a second reading, you need someone to make the motion, then someone else to second it. In other words, you need at least two Councilors to take it to an official vote. Given the fact that 4 of the Councilors came out in opposition to the idea of moving the elections, there was clearly no need to carry it over for a second reading and take it to an official vote. Thus the ordinance was tabled by default.

  7. I see on your website where 65 people voted for moving the elections to November. I GUARANTEE you that if even 1/3 of those people had shown up for last week’s forum or this Monday’s public hearing, Council would have at least moved the issue to a second reading and an official vote, and may well have passed it. As it was, there were only 2 or 3 lonely souls at Monday’s public hearing who spoke in favor of the change, vs. 6 or 7 who spoke against it. And only 5 citizens showed up for the forum on this issue last week.

    In sum, moving elections would be a dramatic change and there simply wasn’t any kind of public groundswell behind it to make the Councilors want to do it.

  8. More speakers supporting the change might have helped but it would have had to have been a tidal wave of Democrats to overcome the potency of those who spoke against it. Francis Fife and Nancy O’Brien spoke against it and they have always had an undue amout of influence on the decisions made by the Council. David Repass of Democrats for Change also spoke against the change. I am sure that none of the councilors wants to risk the wrath of that very successful group.

    Joe Bishop spoke in favor of changing and made great sense but he’s a Republican and has zero influence. Political considerations motivate that Council a lot more than logic does.

    Kevin Cox

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