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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Local voting dominated by the old(er)



With three city council seats to be decided in just over two weeks in St. Petersburg, it's worth thinking about who decides local elections.

Governing magazine has an interesting data-filled take on the question.

In some cities, those 65 and over vote much more frequently than Millenials --that much discussed, maligned and increasingly politically coveted group born between 1981 and 1997 or thereabouts. 

Like 19 to 1 in some cities. 

St. Petersburg's demographics have shifted much younger in recent years. But are the new, younger arrivals voting in city elections? 

In recent years, union-supported groups like the largely youthful People's Budget Review have been highly-visible players come budget time in St. Petersburg.

But that hasn't shifted to the voting booth yet. For example, in the Aug. 25 primary for the District 7 City Council seat, 1,651 people aged 61 and older voted. Just 174 between 18-35-year-olds cast a ballot, according to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office.

That's about 10.5 to 1. 

In 2011, the last time there were council seats open with no mayoral election, a similar ratio emerged: 17,601 over 61-year-olds voted compared to 1,649 of the 18-35 cohort.

What to do? Better outreach, more tailored campaign and public outreach? How about syncing city elections with federal elections? 

Meanwhile, the St. Petersburg municipal elections are Nov. 3. As of yesterday, about 12,000 of 66, 710 mailed ballots have been returned or 18 percent. 

[Last modified: Tuesday, October 20, 2015 8:02pm]


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