Sarasota News Leader

10/12/12

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CHARTER CHANGERS Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent has been urging voters this year to request ab- sentee ballots, in large part because of the number of proposed state constitutional amendments and City of Sarasota charter amendments the Nov. 6 ballot will feature. File photo MORE TIME REQUESTED FOR PETITIONERS TO COLLECT SIGNATURES FOR BALLOT INITIATIVES By Stan Zimmerman City Editor Petition drives are not what they used to be. Today, the person standing outside a library or in a parking lot with a clipboard in hand may not be a local citizen stumping for signatures on a topic in which he believes. Today the person more often is a day laborer getting a buck or two per valid signature. In this money-driven political environment, that makes sense. Why put your supporters in the hot sun when you can hire people for peanuts? In an effort to restore a bit of citizen-driven de- mocracy to the election process, the Sarasota City Charter Review Board proposes changing one number in a charter amendment — from 90 to 180. The city charter today allows 90 days from the date the first signature is collected to com- plete a petition drive. To succeed with a bal- lot initiative, the petitioners need 3,295 sig- natures, representing 10% of the voters in the city who went to the polls for the last at-large city election. Realistically, petitioners must gather many more than 3,295 signatures, because – to count – each signature must be from a regis- tered city voter.

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