Calhoun Co. Considers Changing How They Vote

By: Vanessa Nguyen
By: Vanessa Nguyen

Early voting is underway in Florida where Calhoun County residents consider a change in how they elect county commissioners and school board members.

Organizations like the Calhoun-Liberty Patriots say they want to make sure their votes will count.

"We have a mission statement and one of those things is to educate, one of those is to monitor."

Chairman Jim Pruette says the group has been monitoring how the county elects their commissioners and school board members. Under the current single-members district voting system, voters only get to vote for candidates running in their own districts. But the group wants to switch to a county wide, or at-large, system.

"Great amounts of money go through their hands,” Pruette said. “Decisions are made as to whether you can establish a business, whether you get your road paved. All of these things are influenced by five commissioners yet I only get to vote for one."

But minority community leaders believe at-large voting would prevent a minority from being elected to office. District 4 Commissioner Truman Grant is currently the only minority on the board.

"The thing that the black folks need to realize is they will now have influence on all the county commissioners, which is in their favor, instead of just one," Pruette said.

The county has pursued at-large voting in the past with 70 percent of voters favoring the change during a 1996 referendum. However, the issue was dropped after the NAACP threatened to file a lawsuit.

"It had been voted on by the people and ignored by the Calhoun County Commissioners," Pruette said.

At Tuesday night's commission meeting, Pruette asked commissioners to re-instate the change. But it didn't work. The motion died for lack of a second.

Pruette then served all five commissioners with an 'order to show cause' to explain why they would not follow through with the 1996 referendum. He says his group refuses to give up.

Pruette is now waiting for instructions from the county attorney

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