- August 17, 2016
In an April 21 letter to condo leaders, former Mayor George Spoll reminded recipients of an inconvenient truth when it comes to summer elections on an island filled with snowbirds.
“If your mailing address on file with the Supervisor of Elections is your Longboat Key address, please note, they will not forward your absentee ballot,” said Spoll, president of the Federation of Longboat Key Condominiums. “If you wish to vote on the referendum question, you will need to file a request to forward your absentee ballot to your out-of-state address.”
Spoll sent the letter to prepare those who will be off the island in the coming months — but still plan to cast a vote-by-mail ballot — for an Aug. 30 referendum regarding the proposed Floridays hotel.
The developer behind that project has asked the electorate to allow more density on a group of eight parcels on the north end. Floridays hopes to build a 120-unit boutique hotel on that land.
The forms for both the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office and the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office are available at Town Hall, or you can go to YourObserver.com to download and print a copy. The deadline for residents to request the vote-by-mail ballot is Wednesday, Aug. 24, said Town Clerk Trish Granger.
Click here to access the request form from Sarasota County Supervisor of Election’s Office. Click here for the Manatee County form. (Press the blue download button on the right to save either file.)
“I think a key point is this will be the only time when voters will have a direct say on the building of the hotel,” said Georgia Walters, an eight-year town resident who also created a one-page document with information for fellow Longboaters. “Obviously voters can come to meetings and have their say, but they will not again be able to vote on whether there will be hotel or not.”
Thanks to a state law, the U.S. Postal Service can’t legally forward official ballots — even if the local post office is doing so for other mail. Walters said on an island such as Longboat, that is inconvenient.
“I think they definitely should be forwarded, and they should also be held by the post office if someone is out of town for a short time,” Walters said.
Spoll said that can’t be changed by Longboat residents or officials.
“I have been here 10 years, and it’s been on the books at least that long,” Granger said of the rule.
Key voters may decide on three separate requests for increased density for island projects this year — a town record, according to Planning, Zoning and Building Director Alaina Ray.