The Charter Review Commission is considering whether to move Dallas municipal elections from May to November, with one commissioner saying it will improve voter turnout, thus increasing the effectiveness of Dallas’ elected leaders.
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, the Charter Review Commission has been tasked with determining potential amendments to the Dallas City Charter and presenting them to the City Council. The commission comprises one member from each council district and a chair appointed by Mayor Johnson.
During its October 24 meeting, the commission began discussions about how practical it would be to shift Dallas City Council elections to November and how that would affect the term lengths of council members.
The potential charter amendment to shift the election season was submitted to District 1 commissioner David de la Fuente, who said holding elections in November on odd-numbered years could increase voter turnout.
“Dallas municipal [election] turnout is among the lowest in the country,” claimed De la Fuente, according to KERA News. “Nothing that we have tried on engagement with individuals, through encouraging people to participate in the current system has had a meaningful impact on increasing voter turnout in our city.”
De la Fuente also asserted that November elections could save the City money, stating four “regularly scheduled uniform elections every biennium wastes” millions of taxpayer dollars.
However, another commission member questioned whether incentivizing higher voter turnout is an inherently worthy pursuit.
“The problem that we are attempting to solve is low voter turnout,” said District 2 commissioner Miguel Solis.
“So we think more voter turnout in these elections is a good thing. Why?” Solis added, per KERA.
De la Fuente claimed the municipality will be able to more effectively serve its residents if more registered voters participate in local elections, adding that hosting municipal elections in odd-numbered years during November will prevent “mixing partisan and nonpartisan elections.”
After the commission concludes its review of the City Charter, it will present its findings to the City Council. The council will then consider the commission’s recommendations and determine which amendments to the charter will go before Dallas voters for final approval, per KERA News.