Muni Elections In November: Good or Bad





Plantation voters will decide next month whether they want to join the parade of Broward cities that elect their commissioners in the November General Election.

A few years ago, all city elections were in March.

There are two sides to this move that the county’s municipalities are rushing to embrace.

November elections are popular with city officials because they cost less. Since the Elections Office is already holding an election in November, Plantation would save $60-80,000.

Moving elections to November in Plantation (and other cities) is also expected to increase turnout. Whether it increases the turnout of informed voters who know or care about city government is another question?

But the other side of this issue is that November elections favor incumbents. No ifs, ands or buts about it.  It favors those already in office.

Here is why:

In contrast to March elections, there is early voting in a November election. Thus March campaigns can be run on less money, which makes it easier for a non-incumbent to win. Incumbents can easily raise enough money to cover campaigning and advertising during the two–week long voting period that early voting requires. Challengers have a harder time raising money.

Also, Plantation’s new schedule would run during even years, when the race for President or Governor is on the ballot. City races are an afterthought in such elections. Again, incumbents with name recognition and more money have a distinct advantage.

Political consultants know that November elections protect incumbents.  Now you know why, too.

Plantation residents will decide for themselves the future of democracy in their community in the November 4 election.




19 Responses to “Muni Elections In November: Good or Bad”

  1. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    The most important thing government does is make sure our people have the opportunity to vote. It has to be encouraged not just offered, it is an activity like a sport. Not the same as observing something, like going to a museum. You work to make sure voter turnout occurs, not create obstructions as our state government does or excuses as others do for poor voter turnout.

    Beyond turnout, there’s also the consideration of making sure voters have enough information before they vote. Casting an informed vote is essential to the success of our society.

    City officials provide citizens with about 70% of all the governmental services that we get. Those services range from fire rescue and police, to schools, trash collection, parks, water, roads and more. Many of the things we need most from government come from units of local government. That’s why voters need to spend special attention to those races.

    In Florida, most local and city elected representatives run non-partisan. Don’t ask me why, it’s the law.

    When non-partisans run in partisan election cycles, NOBODY pays attention to the non-partisan candidates. The partisan races absorb all the oxygen in those election cycles and the voters get cheated from giving the attention to local races that they deserve.

    In partisan elections, non-partisan candidates also have greater difficulty running campaigns well.

    Who gets cheated in the long run?

    Citizens, because they’re attention is distracted by the circus-like atmosphere of partisan races and they spend less time than they should considering who’s best to represent them in non-partisan offices. Some say you save money by combining these elections, I believe the exact opposite. It ends up costing us much more when we don’t give local elected candidates the attention we should.

    For all these reasons, I support March elections for non-partisan city officials and November elections for the rest.

    Some argue that it costs more to have partisan and non-partisan races, but I think that it’s easy to be fooled by that appearance. I believe you save much more by paying closer attention to who you elect for local offices. Much more. Compressing every election onto one ballot makes for sloppy thinking, and that’s a lot more expensive in the short and long run.

    There’s a reason we’ve always had March and November elections, though some cities chose to move theirs during the recession. I believed then and now that it is bad public policy to mix what cannot be mixed well — partisan and non-partisan election days.


  2. Ha Ha Ha says:

    The campaign finance deck has already been 99% stacked against challengers for a very long time – the change to November elections just completes the process.

    November elections are much better because of lowered costs and improved voter turnout, so municipal elections should definitely take place in November. The topic of campaign finance reform is a separate issue.

    Maybe after the deck is 100% stacked against challengers we can start to seriously solve that problem. And not with a 1% marginal adjustment, but instead with a very broad, comprehensive solution that completely levels the playing field.

  3. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    You can no more separate campaign finance from the quality of governing we get, than gerrymandering can be separated from districting policy, or the efforts to chill the vote from elections laws.

    They are the part of the same poison. It’s a dish served cold that offers no nutritional value, and a dash of partisanship over service to nation always adds a little flavor. Helps it go down easier.

    This is the poison slopped out to the people by the powerful to steal from them their authority to self-govern — their authority to establish the mandates by which their representatives should govern them. Obstruct them from voting using carefully crafted election laws. Use money to confuse those who do vote. And stack the deck through gerrymandering.

    In this way, the American system is increasingly being replaced by an oligarchy.

    Folks just haven’t woken up it all yet, they will soon enough. Former presidents of both parties have been warning us of these poisons for decades.

    Consolidating all election days under the appearance of voter turnout and cost savings is the next step toward the abyss. But hey, suit yourself. It’s like putting the only meal you get on the one filthy plate you choose to own. But hey, suit yourself.


  4. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    City elections should be in November. We are paying way to much money to have all these different election cycles. Election supervisor don’t care. As I posted before, well sky’s the limit($). I’ll tell you one thing w/ all this drama around Dr.Snipes that postion she has will be open season. This is an easy postion for one of you. I mean really she needs to go. Find out what her attorney is charging us Weeks there. Snipes is not paying her-we are. Anyhow these city elections held in March should easily be done in Novemeber. It’s not the taxpayer’ fault that the majority of the residents don’t know who alot of yoy are. Or is that a good thing(hmm.)

  5. West Davie Resident says:

    November elections make it much harder for registered Independents and Republicans to win in the supposed “nonpartisan” municipal election in overwhelmingly Democratic Broward.

    As Buddy mentioned, the municipal races become just another box to darken on the ballot when I believe voters should be knowledgeable and passionate about their Councilmen and Commissioner candidates who probably have more impact on their daily lives than other elected officials.

    The right to voting comes with the responsibility to be informed. The gentleman in the White House today is proof enough of the problem when poorly informed citizens vote.

    If only our country’s founders had instituted some type of measure to ensure all citizens are properly educated about civics and the issues of the day without discriminating against those without the means or intelligence to stay informed.

  6. Lamberti is a Criminal says:

    Is there anything blowhard Angelo doesn’t comment on?

  7. Ron Gunzburger says:

    While November elections save cities money, they are ultimately bad to municipal government. Local candidates — challengers and incumbents alike — do not have the financial ability to be heard in a sea of mailings and TV ads from Presidential, US Senate, gubernatorial or congressional candidates. Local issues get swept aside, and they are possibly the ones that impact us most in our neighborhoods and on our streets on a daily basis.

  8. Señor Censor says:

    To answer Anjello’s question.

    Who gets cheated in the long run?

    The taxpayers that are fleeced by double dipping high priced politicians like you. I would like to work side by side with you Anjello for six (6) months minus your vacation time, I will bet you do not put in a forty (40) hour week in both of your positions together.

    Are you man enough for the challenge Anjello?

  9. Real Deal says:

    @8 Please go inside and watch cartoons. The adults are speaking.

  10. Richard J Kaplan says:

    I have been going over this debate for many years, and being that I have experience with both March and November elections I still don’t know which is better. It depends upon the city and the answers are inconsistent.

    From a taxpayer and city perspective, November elections are better. They save taxpayer money and staff time. That much is clear. However, depending upon the city, there are no other clear cut answers.

    You could say that voting in November increases voter turnout, but then city elections are at the bottom of the ballot, and in smaller cities, virtually lost in the process.

    Does this favor incumbents? In larger cities with higher name recognition, probably yes, but in smaller cities where most voters don’t know who their elected officials are in the first place, you could argue no.

    Elections in March have smaller turnout, but because competition for voter attention is much smaller, voters are more knowledgeable and tend to know the incumbent candidates betters, giving them a potential advantage. But then they may also know the competition better if they are better organized.

    Also, while most believe that incumbents can raise more funds for a November elections (which are typically more expensive to run so you have to raise more) it is also not necessarily true. The reason is that November elections with national and state races suck out a lot of the available capital to run the smaller campaigns. It is hard to raise funds when the demands for the bigger campaigns are trying to raise every possible dollar available for themselves.

    In March elections, it is easier sometimes to raise cash, and experience is that the cost of a March election is less expensive since you don’t have to compete with all the other campaigns to get your message across. So incumbents that can at least raise some funds have a significant advantage over challengers that have little access to raising any donations.

    In the end, fund raising is only one of the elements of a successful campaign, though a big one. I have seen too many campaigns that raised large sums only to squander it in how they spend it, and then lose. Whether you have a March or November campaign, besides money, other major factors are organization, planning, time, endorsements, presentations, volunteers, getting out to personally “press the flesh,” and quite a bit of luck are needed.

    Therefore, my belief is that depending upon the dynamics of the city, the decision of March or November elections favoring the incumbents may be different. For me personally, I actually preferred March.

  11. TYPO ALERT says:

    I reside in Plantation, am a registered independent voter and not an elected official. In the March 2013 municipal election, the highest vote total in a Plantation city council race was 5639 votes. There are apporoximately 86,000 residents of Plantation. In general in the March 2013 countywide Muni elections only 8.34% of all registered voters voted. I do not know what the Plantation average was but it was probably close to the countywide numbers, if not less. It seems like alot of money(80K) to spend when an overwhelming majority of citizens are not motivated to vote in March. If the citizens of a City want to vote out an incumbent, they can do so in November, when they are “focused” due to the National, regional and local hoopla, than in March, when they are lees likely to pay attention or care.

  12. Floridian says:

    Is there anything blowhard Angelo doesn’t comment on?

    And yet his comment actually addressed the issue at hand.

  13. Lamberti is a Criminal says:

    @9 – Real Deal is absolutely correct. You have no idea (apparently) of the abuses our “elected” and “anointed” officials commit daily.

  14. Lamberti is a Criminal says:

    @9 – Real Deal. Senor Censor is absolutely correct. You have no idea (apparently) of the abuses our “elected” and “anointed” officials commit daily here in the corruption capital of the US.

  15. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    Forgot to mention that we pay county taxes in order to pay for all county functions. Elections are county functions, yet cities have to pay additional fees for certain elections.

    How did they come to determine this? It’s never made sense to me. Does the law forbid it? No. Does the law require it? Also no.

    The total annual cost of the elections office should be put into our county tax bill if only to closer approximate truth in millage and let residents see their total elections costs. There should be no need for additional financing on the side.


  16. Normpr says:

    My opinion is that for city elections it should stay for March even though you get a much lower turnout but easier to see the city elections so I definitely agree with Richard Kaplan and totally disagree with activist Robert Walsh who always criticizes Brenda Snipes who is NOT the one to which date the elections should be. I laugh when I see him post which every time is Snipes is to blame so start thinking correct and I wonder when you will be able to vote

  17. Andrew Ladanowski says:

    @Gunzburger I agree local races should not be on November ballots. I think august may be a good compromise. Cities don’t have the cost of an additional election and only the diehards vote in these.

  18. Ha Ha Ha says:

    I voted today & it was easy. About 20 other people voting at the same time, but the early voting site could handle about 50 at once. No line, no waiting. Ballot was 1 page front & back and then another half-page more.

    Obviously, municipal elections should be held in November. Specifically, the same November in which the Florida Governor is elected. The ballot of that November is easy, so the additional municipal races won’t make it too long. In addition, turnout isn’t too heavy and so there is plenty of free capacity to handle additional voters.

  19. Kevin Hill says:


    Some political science research from over 10 years ago showed incumbents benefit from high turnout elections (i.e. re-election rates and spending gaps between incumbents and challengers are higher. This of course says nothing about quality of governance).

    I am currently collecting data on exactly this question since the switch in Broward in 2004-2006. But it will take a while.