Open Our Elections Committee
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4411 Bee Ridge Rd, Unit 622, Sarasota Fl 34233
HomeNewsThe Reason

The Reason to Open Our Elections!

Why we must amend our Sarasota County Charter to allow for non-partisan local elections!
The following are the reasons we should Open Our Elections!
As with all elections, traditional local elections have candidates of various parties vying for the opportunity to be an elected official of Sarasota County. Usually a candidate of each party, for example a Republican and a Democrat, chosen during a primary (August) faces the opponent of the other party in the general election (November). 

In a case where there are only candidates from one party running for a given county office, the winner of the primary becomes the elected official. In this situation, according to Florida State law, ALL registered voters, regardless of party, can vote in the Primary for that office. 

However, that same state law also includes a ‘loophole’ that allows someone to close the primary to all other voters. It allows for people to file as ‘write-in’ candidates, usually someone who claims they have no party affiliation, for the General Election for a given office. By having someone as a ‘write-in’ candidate, the Primary will become ‘closed’ to all voters except those of the one party. In effect, this locks out more than half of the registered voters in Sarasota County from voting for our local officials and having a say in who makes the government decisions that affect our quality of life.

This ‘loophole’ has been used several times and both Republicans and Democrats have been guilty of using this tactic to manipulate the elections. A recent example is our 2012 Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections race. There were two Republican candidates and no Democratic challengers. When someone filed as a ‘write-in’ candidate for the General Election, it closed the voting door to all voters except Republicans in choosing the County Supervisor of Elections. After the ‘closed’ Primary the ‘write-in’ candidate simply withdrew from the General Election ballot and the election was officially decided by the results of the Primary. See the ‘A Quick look at our 2012 elections’ below for more information.

Why amend the charter? To provide for a fair and open election process in Sarasota County, and to eliminate the manipulations that have marred and distorted our recent elections, disenfranchising a large segment of registered voters. With non-partisan elections, all registered voters will be able to vote in every election for county officers regardless of party affiliation. It is time to level the playing field and to reduce the influence of big-money politics. Non-partisan elections will make it possible for any citizen who can qualify, to run in any race, regardless of party affiliation or lack of party affiliation. Non-partisan elections will make it more difficult for any one group to dominate the political process.

Open Our Elections is a political committee aimed at open and fair elections for all eligible Sarasota voters. Please sign our petition so that you will have an opportunity to vote for this important change to our county election procedures!

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 A quick look at our 2012 elections:

Here is a quick look at Sarasota County 2012 Elections where the loophole was used to close the elections:

Total number of registered voters in Sarasota County: 280,111

Breakdown by Party
                           Republicans:          121,755 (43.48%)
                           Democrats:              88,481 (31.6%)
                           No Party Affiliation:   60,947 (21.78%)
                           Other Parties:            8,798 ( 3.14%)

Due to the write-in candidate loophole maneuver, the following were the final vote numbers for a couple of races where the outcome of the Republican primary became the elected county official:

- Supervisor of Elections race had only 28,447 votes cast 

- County Commissioner District 5 race had only 24,720 votes cast  

The write-in loophole maneuver disenfranchised 158,226 voters … 56.49% of the registered voters of Sarasota County.  

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 Open Our Elections 

President - Susan Lang

Treasurer -  William Zoller