As mentioned in a previous communication, the City Council has a special session tomorrow evening (Monday, September 12) focused on the proposal to change the date of our local elections from odd to even years. The following link has details on the meeting:
The idea of synchronizing with Federal and State elections was approved by Takoma Park voters in a non-binding resolution in November. Since that time the Council -- in coordination with the Board of Elections and City staff -- has been exploring what it would take to move local elections to even years while retaining our unique ballot features like voting rights for non-citizens, 16 – 17 year olds, and former felons, along with same-day registration and instant run-off.
Given the generally low turnout in Takoma Park municipal elections (the average turnout has been around 10% in recent years), moving our vote to coincide with gubernatorial or Presidential elections (with recent local turnouts respectively of about 40% and 75%) would mean higher overall voter participation in local races. This is why I am a strong supporter of the synchronization concept.
That being said, I do think it’s vital for us to preserve our unique electoral features, and we also need to have a clear understanding of any additional costs or other logistical challenges that would be associated with making the switch. I’m hopeful that we will be able to address those questions so we can make the change, but we aren’t yet at a point where we have all the necessary answers.
The City Clerk and Chair of the Takoma Park Board of Elections are scheduled to attend the Montgomery County Board of Elections meeting on September 19 to brief the County Board on where we stand with the synchronization proposal. So the discussion tomorrow night -- and an additional discussion that will be on the agenda as part of our regular Council meeting on Wednesday -- will help guide that presentation. I encourage residents to take advantage of the opportunity to weigh in on this topic.
Please let me know if you have questions or comments.
Peter Kovar, Takoma Park City Council