2019 Birmingham special election

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The 2019 Birmingham special election was a city wide election held on October 8, 2019 to fill vacancies in three Birmingham City Council seats and to conduct a referendum on renewing the city's "School Bond Tax".

The School Bond Tax is a 2.8-mill ad valorum property tax used to pay debt service on the city's general obligation bonds to construct school buildings. It currently provides around $27 million in yearly revenues, representing approximately 54% of all property tax revenues collected in the city. It was last renewed in 1991 for a 30-year term, and, if not approved by voters, would expire on September 30, 2021. On the ballot the tax measure is divided into three referenda, each addressing a portion of the total amount due to expire.

The Birmingham Election Commission met in May to set a date for the city-wide referendum. Under the requirements of the Mayor-Council Act, any vacant seats on the City Council, including those held by acting appointees, must also be filled during the next city-wide election.

Candidates could submit qualifications for open Council seats between August 9 and 23. On election day, approximately 10.8% of registered voters appeared at the polls city-wide. After polls closed workers at three precincts mistakenly sealed the data cards from the vote scanners with the paper ballots. A court order was required to unseal those packets and retrieve the data cards, meaning that the unofficial results of the election were not available until Wednesday afternoon.

The result of the election was overwhelming passage of the property tax referenda. Incumbents Clinton Woods and Crystal Smitherman retained their seats on the City Council while incumbent Wardine Alexander faced a run-off challenge with Ray Brooks. The runoff election in District 7 was scheduled for November 19.

Results

Referenda on the renewal of the School Bond Tax

  • Proposition 1:
    • For: 14,144, passed
    • Against: 1,568
  • Proposition 2:
    • For: 14,127, passed
    • Against: 1,564
  • Proposition 3:
    • For: 13,992, passed
    • Against: 1,696

City Council Seats

References

  • Prickett, Sam (April 23, 2019) "Referendum on Renewing Property Tax for Birmingham Schools Possible, Up for Discussion Next Week." BirminghamWatch
  • Koplowitz, Howard (May 6, 2019) "Birmingham sets Oct. 8 special election for 3 council seats." The Birmingham News
  • Koplowitz, Howard (August 6, 2019) "Candidate qualifying dates set for Birmingham council special elections." The Birmingham News
  • Beahm, Anna (August 26, 2019) "Who qualified for Oct. 8 election for three Birmingham council seats?" The Birmingham News
  • Beahm, Anna (September 20, 2019) "Tax votes coming up in Mountain Brook, Birmingham." The Birmingham News
  • Wright, Erica (October 3, 2019) "Meet City Council Candidates in Tuesday’s Birmingham Special Election." The Birmingham Times
  • Beahm, Anna (October 9, 2019) "Missing results retrieved from sealed Birmingham ballot boxes." The Birmingham News
  • Beahm, Anna (October 9, 2019) "Birmingham renews school tax; District 7 goes to runoff in November." The Birmingham News