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Sarasota retains single-member districts

57.2% of voters say "No" to the charter amendment.

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  • | 7:44 p.m. March 8, 2022
Vote by mail voters stopped by the Supervisor of Elections office on Tuesday to drop off ballots.
Vote by mail voters stopped by the Supervisor of Elections office on Tuesday to drop off ballots.
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Voters rejected a charter amendment proposal to return to at-large voting for Sarasota County Commission seats in an election that concluded Tuesday night and broadly supported an additional 1-mill property tax levy for Sarasota County Schools. 

With all precincts reporting and most absentee and mail-in ballots recorded, the results on the charter amendment were:

No: 57.24% (55,994 votes)

Yes: 42.76% (41,831 votes)

The results for the school millage rate were: 

Yes: 84.19% (83,446 votes)

No: 15.81% (15,672 votes)

According to the Supervisor of Elections office, turnout was 28.4%.

The move to amend the county charter to return to at-large voting for County Commission seats came in December when commissioners authorized the ballot language. Critics said they were trying to circumvent the voters who approved single-member districts in 2018. Supporters of the proposal countered that voters then might not have understood what the issues were and wanted to ensure the county electorate's views were accurately represented. 

Had the charter amendment been successful, it would have applied to this year's general election, ensuring 2020 was the only year in which the county held single-member district elections. Candidates are already in the running for the August primaries.

The school tax has traditionally received broad support from Sarasota County voters. In the last round of voting on the levy, which has been in place since 2002 and comes up every four years. 

It  funds things such as the extra instructional time, which makes possible a seven-period day at the high school level, pre-K programs, art and music teacher positions and additional school staff. School leaders point out the additional instructional hours, if applied to a student who begins in kindergarten and graduates high school will have experienced the equivalent of an extra year of schooling, as a result. 

The school district expects about $71.6 million from the tax. 

On Election Day, 2,494 more "Yes" votes were received for the charter amendment than "No" votes, but mail-in voting played a significant role in the outcome. 39,317 "No" votes were received by mail compared to 23,058 "Yes" votes, according to the Supervisor of Elections website Tuesday evening.

Single-member districts were established in the 2018 general election. In December 2021, the County Commission voted to place an amendment to reverse the decision on the March ballot, which failed on Tuesday.

Single-member districts allow for citizens to vote for the commissioners serving the district that they live in. If the referendum had passed, all eligible voters in the county would vote on every district's commissioners.





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