The Rocky Mount Town Council has decided against moving its elections from May to November.
Council members considered moving the elections to increase voter turnout and minimize costs. When the change was discussed last month, they asked town staff to report back with data from the county voter registrar.
Town Manager James Ervin shared the figures during a Monday night council meeting. They showed consistently greater turnout in November elections.
Fewer than 1,000 voters turned out for any of the last four May elections. The highest was May 2012, when 817 Rocky Mount residents voted to elect members of town council.
Meanwhile each of the last four November elections brought more than 1,000 voters to the polls. The highest was November 2012, when 2,557 voters in the town of Rocky Mount cast ballots.
There are approximately 3,000 registered voters in the town, according to data posted on the state department of elections website.
Councilman Mark Newbill said he felt moving elections to November would make it easier for town residents to participate. It’s not uncommon for people tell him they forgot about the May election, Newbill said.
“I think it should be the position of the town council to try and make things easier for our citizens,” he said.
Newbill said he was convinced the numbers supported a shift in scheduling. But other members of the council were not.
Mayor Steve Angle said he remained concerned that the town would get “lost in the shuffle on the ballot.”
He said he felt holding the elections in May would ensure that Rocky Mount was the focus.
Town staff suggested as a compromise holding the elections in November, but not during presidential election years. The idea did not gain traction.
Newbill made a motion to move town elections to November, which Jon Snead seconded. But the motion failed when no other council members voted in favor.