Poll: Should City's Election Be Moved to November?

A local group of citizens advocating for government efficiency wants the voters to decide if the local elections for city council, school board and mayor should be moved from May to November.

Manassas Votes is a group of local citizens that want the voters to decide if  Manassas elections should be held in November instead of May. This, the group says, would save local tax payer dollars and voters' time, as well as increase voter turnout.

Currently, the city pays about $100 dollars to hold the elections in May and is one of two jurisdicitons (out of 39) in the state that still holds an election in May. 

The group says moving the elections to November will save the city the money, because the state already pays for November elections. Supporters also say the move will garner more voter participation.

Traditionally, voter turnout is less than 10 percent for local elections in the City of Manassas held in May. According to Deputy Registrar for the City of Manasas Anne Marie Bausch, voter turnout for  the May 2012 election was slightly higher than previous years, but was still low with about 8.7 percent of registered voters participating.

Additional information provided by Manassas Votes said "November voter turnout is much higher, ranging from about 35 percent in non-presidential elections and up to 70 percent or more in presidential elections."

Manassas Votes reports that while out cirulating the petition they found a lot of citizens who did not know the city holds an election in May.

Non-supporters, however, say that local elections would get "lost in the hoopla" in November and could end up costing the city more money because of the need for more election staff. But Manassas Votes said cities that have made the move, including Blacksburg, have not reported any overshadowing issues. 

"None of those mayors thought that local issues ended up being overshadowed by national issues," read a release by Manassas Votes.

Right now, with the elections being separated out, the city spends approximately $10,000 dollars every two years when the local elections are held, according to Bausch. Should the elections be moved to November, additional staff would likely be needed to deal with all the activity happening at once.

"There's a lot of acitivity involved with the elections, so additional staff would likely be needed to process candidate paper work, among other things, should the elections happen at the same time," Bausch said.

Treasurer of Manassas Votes and long-time Manassas resident Steve Hersch said in a recent press release that the group is made up of citizens who want Manassas voters to have the benefit of the same election process that most Virginias already have.

He said the people that make up Manassas Votes want the community to succeed by optimizing the efficiency of local government and strengthening the democracy.

The group will be at the Manassas Farmer's Market on Thursday and Saturday in Old Town Manassas from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. collecting signatures. The group must have 2,000 signatures (10 percent of registered voters in the city) by early August in order for the referendum to appear on the ballot in November.

Anyone seeking information about the topic is encouraged to call or stop by the Voter Registration Office.

Steve Hersch and Manassas Votes can be reached at treasurer@manassasvotes.org or 704-281-­6885.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to accurately reflect a correction issued by Manassas Votes Treasurer Steve Hersch after a press release issued on the group's behalf transposed some wording relating to national vs. local issues.

Patricia Richie-Folks July 24, 2012 at 04:03 PM
It is truly a sad day when only 8.9% of voters turn out for a local election out of 100% and 35-70% turn out in a November election. This is further proof that the elections should be held in November.
Erin Gibson July 24, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Thanks for your comment. What about the fact released by Manassas Votes that cities in VA that have implemented the move from May to November for local elections, said there's been no issue with local issues being overshadowed by national issues?
RF July 25, 2012 at 12:39 AM
You make my point exactly! That's a large percentage of people that don't care about local elections now that would end up voting in local elections in the fall.
sa August 06, 2012 at 02:59 AM
I do not understand why the city would need more staff for the election if it was to be moved to November. I am sure that those who vote for the elections in May also come out for the elections in November. I do not think that there would be more people coming to the poles - just a greater percentage of tax payers being represented.
Civus Americanus sum November 27, 2012 at 10:08 PM
So now people have to "know" about what they're voting about? Is that a new requirement for voting that I'm not familiar with?


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