Recently the Florida Legislature moved the date of the State’s partisan Presidential Preference Primary from January to March 2016. With this change, the Orange County Supervisor of Elections asked the City of Orlando to change the City’s April election date for Mayor and Commissioners expressing concern that having the State and City elections so close together could lead to voter confusion as a result of overlap with absentee ballots for both elections and precinct confusion.
Eighty percent of American cities today hold their general elections on different days than state and national elections. Following this model, City staff evaluated alternative dates for the City election. Moving the date to later in 2016 did not seem appropriate as it would extend the term of the current elected officials. Concerns raised by the Supervisor of Elections Office related to absentee ballot overlap and precinct confusion would still exist if the election were held earlier in 2016. Given these factors, the City Attorney has recommended that the City of Orlando elections be moved to November 2015 bringing the added benefit that November is when most people are used to voting. The City elections will be held in odd years with November 3, 2015 being the date in the upcoming election cycle.
While this new date shortens the terms of incumbents, changing the City’s election to the first Tuesday in November of odd-numbered years will ensure that our elections never again conflict with the State’s partisan Presidential Preference Primary, eliminating any potential confusion for voters, preventing election overlap and ensuring our local elections remain non-partisan.
Three City ordinances are required for this date change to take effect. Section 1-1 of Chapter 2 of the City Charter requires that candidates reside in and be electors of the City and, for district commissioner candidates, in the district, for one year prior to qualifying. But for the change in general election dates, the end of the qualifying period would have been February 5, 2016, but due to the change, the end of the qualifying period will move forward to September 4, 2015. In fairness to prospective candidates who were relying on the previous election schedule, this ordinance provides for a one-time adjustment to the one year requirement. Candidates will be required to have lived in and been electors of the area that they wish to represent for one year prior to February 5, 2015 as they would under the previous election schedule.
General Election Date: November 3, 2015 - first Tuesday after first Monday of Nov.
Run-off Election Date: December 1, 2015 (4 weeks after the general election)
1 year residency/elector reqt.: City resident/voter before February 5, 2015*
*due to the change of date, this one-time, the date is being kept for the date it would have been had the election remained on the previously scheduled April 5, 2016 date
Term Start Date: January 11, 2016
Qualifying Dates: noon Aug. 31 – noon Sept. 4, 2015 (60 days before the election)