The Oviedo City Council gave preliminary approval of an all-mail ballot special election that will take place in early 2023 after an amendment was mistakenly left off of November’s General Election ballot.
The amendment will allow voters to decide whether or not the City of Oviedo should be authorized to grant property tax exemptions to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses.
Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Chris Anderson apologized to the Council during its Oct. 17 meeting for the mistake and proposed some solutions, including an all-mail ballot election.
“Now when you do an all-mail ballot election, you ensure that everyone gets a ballot,” Anderson said.
He said the vote-by-mail requests will expire by the end of 2022 creating a gap between that expiration and the date when voters can renew their requests. That window would take place during the proposed special election.
City Manager Bryan Cobb said that, in the past, the Council has learned that the best way to get the highest Oviedo voter participation is for information to be mailed directly.
“No one really took an interest until it landed in their mailbox,” Cobb said, referring to resident reaction to the recent property-tax increase notice, as well as when residents packed Oviedo City Hall in June after receiving notice in the mail of a possible fire fee, which ended up being rejected by the Council
Oviedo Mayor Megan Sladek considered the option of having an in-person election location.
“Part of me thinks it would be more thoughtful to have an in-person opportunity and also people who are naturally interested and naturally inclined to be more involved with the process and more educated, but also the idea of everybody getting the chance to vote is great too,” Sladek said.
Anderson said that voter turnout for in-person voting is historically 14%.
Deputy Mayor Bob Pollack favored an all-mail ballot election and requested that the postage cost, which is estimated to be about $40,000, be covered by the Supervisor of Elections office.
“I just think the voter turnout is going to be larger if you do the mail because people just won’t know about it,” Pollack said. “It’s hard enough to get people interested in our off-year elections in November.”
Anderson said that the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections office can utilize its social media accounts to alert voters and share information on the special election.
“I’d rather have more people vote and give their input,” said Council Member Natalie Teuchert. “I’d rather send it to all the houses and do it that way and make sure that everybody gets the chance to vote on it.”
The City Council agreed that the all-mail ballot special election is held sometime in February or March, after the holiday season.
What will be on the all-mail ballot:
- A proposed economic development ad valorem tax exemption for new businesses.
- Voters can decide if the Oviedo City Council should be authorized to grant property tax exemptions to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses that are expected to create new full-time jobs in Oviedo.
- Voters can vote for the authority to grant tax exemptions or against the authority to grant tax exemptions.
Find OCN’s voter guide for the 2022 General Election on Nov. 8 here.
Watch the full Oct. 17 meeting