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:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Voting Delays in Seward

I am aware of many concerns related to significant delays in west Seward, in the new Precinct 2 of Ward 6, that voted at Seward Square Apartments.

In my view, this situation was created by the Charter Commission’s decision to redistrict west Seward into Ward 6 putting the Ward 6 portion of Seward is in two different legislative districts, necessitating that the two areas be in different precincts of unequal size.  Precinct 6-2 ended up very oddly-shaped as a result, with a long "panhandle" between Franklin and I-94 that stretches all the way to 20th Ave.  More analysis below the fold.

I supported having the polling place at Seward Square Apartments because, given the short time frame between when the new wards were approved and when we needed to give notice of the polling places, we were not able to find a new polling location for the folks who live in the new 2-9, which meant that those residents had to keep voting in Seward Tower East.  The building does not have space for two polling places.  I am committed to find a new polling location for 2-9 because this is an unacceptable long-term solution.  

Also, there is a substantial population of disabled people living in Seward Square Apartments who have voted in their building for at least a decade, and I am concerned about requiring them to go to a building blocks away.  Matthews Center is a potential option but is in the far southeast corner of the precinct.   

Elections staff tried hard to make Seward Square Apartments work, making a block of 9th St S into voter-only parking, finding off-site parking at several local businesses, and doing special outreach to residents of Seward Tower East who found themselves in the strange position of having a polling place in their building at which they could not vote.  

When I heard about the delays yesterday, I contacted our staff and requested additional support for the Seward Square precinct.   

The number of votes cast in 6-2 (1,648) was actually lower than the citywide average.  Of the 119 precincts in Minneapolis, at least 70 had more voters than 6-2, including some with more than 3,000 voters.  I do not yet have solid data on how many voters in 6-2 registered on election day, but anecdotally, it sounds like a large number of same-day registrants may have caused much of the delay.  I will advocate that Elections staff ensure – wherever the polling place is – that there are additional same-day registration resources in this precinct, and that same-day registrants and pre-registered voters are separated into discrete lines as soon as possible, to shorten the wait for pre-registered voters.  

I welcome your input on polling places for west Seward, and I will share what I hear from you with both Elections staff and Sixth Ward Council Member Robert Lilligren.  However, I want to share a caution.  Due to the overlap between Ward and Legislative boundaries, there is not likely to be a perfect solution in precinct 6-2.  It is one of many negative results from a misguided redistricting.  


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