Frequently Asked Questions

What methods are used to elect County Commissioners in Florida?

In Florida there are actually three different styles of voting for County Commissioners.

  • The At-Large System – This is what Alachua County currently uses. All the voters vote on all the commissioners.
  • The Single-Member District System – This style has only the voters in a particular area vote on their representative commissioner. This is already used on the state and national level.
  • The Hybrid System – This system takes a little from both of the other systems.

What are the advantages of the Single-Member District?

The biggest advantage is improved representation and accountability. Right now, you are 1 out of 180,000 voices in Alachua County. If Alachua County were to move to a Single-Member District system, you would be closer to 1 out of 36,000 voices in you district. Every area has different needs and desires and this system provides are greater likelihood that your needs would be heard.

Do any other counties in Florida use the Single-Member District System to elect their County Commissioners?

There are 67 counties in Florida and almost one third of them use the Single-Member District style of voting.

Is it true that you cannot speak with any of the commissioners who do not represent your district?

No, that is patently false. You can speak to ANY commissioner whether you reside in their district or not. Commissioner Chair Wheeler even corroborated this when she said, “I am comfortable to have people call me from all over the county,” at a hearing in February 2022.  

While you would only be voting for the commissioner for your specific area, all of the commissioners would still be working for the betterment of the entire county. 

What are the legal methods for placing a Charter Amendment on the ballot?

Currently there are 5 methods to place this type of initiative on the ballot.  

Florida State law allows for two avenues of placing a charter amendment on the ballot; a petition method similar to that of the current county charter and a delegation from the specified area meeting and voting on the amendment.  

The Alachua County Charter lists 3 additional ways the charter can be amended: 

  1. A county-wide petition consisting of 10% of the registered voters. 
  2. A submission to the Charter Review Board which meets once every 10 years. The most recent one being in 2020. 
  3. A amendment proposed by the Board of County Commissioners. 

The Alachua County charter does not pre-empt the Florida State Constitution laws for amending a county charter, they simply ADD to the list of ways a charter can be amended.

Have there been any other attempts to change the Alachua County Charter to Single-Member Districts?

Yes, there have been several attempts made via the petition route, but it is incredibly difficult to acquire the needed amount of signatures to place the amendment on the ballot. In Alachua County, you need 10% of the registered voters, which is approximately 18,000 signatures.

There have also been two attempts via the Charter Review Board, but it was voted down in 2010 and the board declined to vote on the matter in 2020 despite nearly 50% of the public comments in the county portal referencing single-member districts. 

Did the state legislature change Alachua’s County Charter?

No, they did not. The state simply provided an opportunity for the constituents in the county to vote on the amendment. It is still up to the citizens of Alachua County to support and implement Single-Member Districts in our county.

In the Spring 2022 session, the state house entertained the Single-Member District amendment, it went through three committees and received unanimous support in two of the three committees. It then passed the senate and went to the Governors desk. This is not the State changing the Counties charter, this is the state providing an opportunity for the county to vote on the amendment.

The Alachua County charter does not pre-empt the Florida State Constitution laws for amending a county charter, they simply ADD to the list of ways a charter can be amended. 

If you have any other questions, please reach out!