Even-year voting: PTC Council can’t agree on term-cutting formula

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The idea of changing municipal elections in Peachtree City to even-numbered years moved incrementally toward a resolution on May 7. The City Council voted 4-1 to have staff prepare a legislative document for a final vote in the coming months.

Council members were presented with two possible examples of how the switch to even-numbered years might be accomplished. Both options would require approval by the Georgia General Assembly. The first example would require a public vote to enact.

The first example would have the terms of Post 1 Councilman Eric Imker and Post 2 Councilman Mike King shortened to three years beginning in 2016. Elections to fill both posts are set for this fall.

Under the first example, which had the largest council support, the election for the seats held by Imker and King would be held, as prescribed, in November, and the winner of those seats would take office in January. This option would require a public referendum.

The second example would have all council seats shortened to three years beginning in 2018 and 2020 and would require no public vote.

The Thursday night discussion had all favoring the switch to even-numbered years, though Imker supported the second of two examples rather than the first example that appeared to be favored by others in the council.

The vote was 4-1 on having staff prepare the legislative document. But that final document will require unanimous approval by the council in the coming months before it can be sent to a member of the Fayette County legislative delegation for submission in the General Assembly’s 2016 session. Without a unanimous vote, the proposed local legislation will be dead before it starts.

Assuming the issue is adopted by the General Assembly in the 2016 term, the proposal would be the subject of a referendum later in 2016. If successful, the terms of the two candidates elected to the council for Post 1 and 2 would be shortened from four years to three years and would expire in 2018.

Candidates running for the Post 1 and 2 seats later this year would be aware of the potential that their terms might be shortened by one year.

The idea of having city elections changed to even-numbered years was initiated by King earlier this year.

There would be a significant savings involved in changing city elections to even-numbered years, as King suggested, though City Clerk Betsy Tyler said the total amount of those savings is not currently known.

King in February said he surfaced the idea during his election campaign, adding that moving city elections to even-numbered years would enhance voter turnout since a higher percentage of voters go to the polls for state and national elections.

King in a previous meeting said voter turnout on even-numbered years ran 60-80 percent while turnout in municipal elections held during odd-numbered years ran approximately 19-22 percent.