At Monday night’s city council meeting, the council passed an ordinance amending the City’s Code to officially change their election day. The second reading of Ordinance 19-11-CC passed with Councilman Chatham Morgan casting the lone ‘no’ vote.
The City’s broad home rule powers include the ability to align the City’s election day with the State General Election in November. To accomplish this, the City Council had to pass an ordinance amending the City’s Code, which is what Ordinance 19-11-CC accomplishes.
While the legislature passed a special law in 1992, which aligns all the Okaloosa County municipalities’ election days to a day in March, the state general law specifically provides that the City’s home rule powers supersede that of any special law relating to municipal election day.
The law further provides that any incidental extension of elected officials terms as a result of changing the election day is acceptable.
The City Council has previously expressed its desire to move the election day because of the substantial increase in voter turnout at November elections. According to the Okaloosa County Supervisor of Election’s website, the following are the reported voter turnouts for Okaloosa County amongst registered voters in the last 5 years when municipal elections are voted on:
|5 Year Average||20.37%||20.37%|
There are 11,117 registered voter in the City of Destin. 20.37% of 11,117 is 2,265. 69.10% of 11,117 is 7,682. The difference between 7,682 and 2,265 is 5,417.
Last week, the City of Destin received the legal opinion back from the FL Attorney General that agreed with the City’s legal opinion that the City has the authority to move the election from March to the November General Election.
“Our aim is to go from 6-12% turnout to 60-70% just from this change.”Councilman Parker Destin
Councilman (and candidate for Okaloosa Commissioner District 5) Parker Destin, who made the motion to adopt the second reading, told Get The Coast, “Better participation means a better democracy, we’re excited. Having the elections in November just makes more sense and is in line with the original requirements of the elections in our City Charter.”
Now that council has passed the ordinance, the City will work with the Okaloosa Supervisor of Elections to reset the councils candidate qualifying dates to around June 2020 and have the Supervisor’s administration prepare the November Presidential ballot to include the Destin’s Municipal seats at the end.