On the heels of a public referendum that overwhelming supported a shift in the city election date, the City Council voted on third and final reading Thursday to move the date to coincide with the county’s general election, which is held in August.
Voters passed the referendum by 85 percent to 15 percent in mid-April.
“I’m excited about it,” said Councilman Toby Gilley, who is running for General Sessions Judge, Part III as a Republican in the county election.
Gilley said he called for a vote after being re-elected four years ago to hold a public vote on the matter but didn’t receive enough support to send the matter up for a referendum.
“This time it was, and I think the public overwhelmingly said August is a better time to go vote,” he said.
Leaders in other Rutherford County cities who moved their elections have seen higher voter turnout, but they also say they have to spend more time educating people about the vote. Gilley said he believes it’s the responsibility of voters to educate themselves and for candidates to provide them with information they need to make an informed decision.
“It’s a two-way street,” he said.
Councilman Doug Young said he voted “no” in the referendum but will support the measure now that it has passed.
“I think you’re going to have mass chaos – confusion,” Young said.
He predicted unintended consequences such as “voter fatigue” at future city elections.
Smyrna and La Vergne, both of which moved their voted to coincide with other elections, have seen turnout go well above 50 percent.
Opponents of moving Murfreesboro’s voting date also believe it will turn city elections into partisan affairs if they’re on the same ballot as candidates designated as Republican and Democrat. City elections do not allow political affiliation.