Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here: http://secondward.blogspot.com/2006/05/disclaimer.html#links

Friday, June 17, 2011

Elections Department

Today, the Council voted not to explore contracting with Hennepin County for elections services.  The vote followed a report provided by a consultant, hired in May to study consolidation of all or a part of the City’s elections responsibilities with Hennepin County.  The consultant, Connie Schmidt, was also asked to look at process improvements, potential cost savings, and other operational enhancements.  Ms. Schmidt identified little to no cost savings with consolidation and did not recommend a merger.  

In her report, she carefully outlined the different election functions the City and County do and suggested several ways for the city to save costs including eliminating 12 to 14 precincts.  Schmidt commended the election division for its work on the Senate recount of 2008, the implementation of Rank Choice Voting in 2009; and the gubernatorial recount of 2010.  

The report identifies an immediate need to purchase RCV-capable voting equipment and states that, “The City election staff, in partnership with the Secretary of State, Hennepin County and other counties in the State of Minnesota, should join arms to work cooperatively to develop required RFP specifications. There can be significant cost savings to all jurisdictions (cities and counties) through a joint effort to purchase new equipment.”  In my role as Elections Committee Chair, I am working to convene a discussion between City and County Elections staff, appropriate elected officials, and Ranked Choice Voting experts on this voting equipment issue.

The report also recommends that the City election office continue to build on their renewed partnership with the County election office, conduct a Business Process Analysis to determine whether the division is operating efficiently and identify ways in which operations could be improved; consider relocating offices to share space with the clerks office and develop a strategic plan for the next 3 to 5 years.  The vote by the Council will allow us to move ahead filling the position of Election Director that (although filled by two different interim directors) has remained vacant since mid-2009.

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