CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A group in Chesapeake is hoping to change when voters head to the polls.
They want local elections be held on the same day as the November general election.
Currently, elections for mayor, city council and school board in Chesapeake are held in May.
The group called Change The Date Chesapeake is petitioning to get the issue on this year’s ballot so voters can decide what they want.
The topic has been brought up with city council before and some council members aren’t on board with the idea.
Jeanne Hanewich started the Change The Date movement and she says what they’re proposing just makes sense.
“People want the convenience of voting once a year,” she said.
Group volunteers are trying to collect more than 15,000 signatures. If they meet their goal, the issue will go on the November 2019 ballot. Voters will then be able to choose if they’d prefer to keep local elections in May or move them to November.
“A lot of people work two jobs. It’s hard for them to get to the polls and in November, that’s when everybody is really focused on it,” Hanewich said.
According to the city registrar, only 15% of registered voters turned out for the May 2018 election – but for the November 2018 election, that number jumped to 56%.
“15 percent? That’s not a representation of our citizenship,” Hanewich
According to the city, each election in 2018 cost over $100,000.
“To me, it’s really wasteful of our taxpayer money to have a duplicate election at a time when people don’t turn out,”
City council members proposed the idea during an August 2018 city council meeting.
“Certainly save the city some money but also to give the citizens a better opportunity to exercise their right to vote,” said Councilwoman Dr. Ella Award.
However several other council members struck it down in a 6-3 vote. Mayor Rick West even said he felt the proposal was politically motivated.
“I think that having elections in May, it has served Chesapeake well. I trust our citizens who want to vote to get out and vote,” West said.
Hanewich said it’s time for a change.
“If they move it to November, then a lot more people will have a voice.”
10 On Your Side reached out to the city council members who voted no to the proposal for a comment but we didn’t hear back in time for the story.
The group has until July 18 to get the required amount of signatures.
They’ll be at the Chesapeake Jubilee this weekend trying to get support.
If you’re interested in signing the petition or if you’d like to help, go here: https://changethedatechesapeake.com/.