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:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Turnout Projections for this Fall

The Star Tribune is out with a blog post that asserts that Minneapolis elections officials "project 75 percent voter turnout."

I am concerned that there may have been some miscommunication because I don't think that's not quite right.  As the Council's Elections chair, I have been in many conversations with our Elections staff about this fall, and I can say with certainty that the Elections department has not made a prediction for voter turnout.  Rather, staff have set the staffing levels for precincts based on a 75% turnout, because it's far better to have too many election judges on election day than too few.  They based that decision on the factors cited by Elections Director Wachlarowicz in the article: the open mayor's race, past trends, etc.  But this is intended to be a conservative, high-water-mark estimate that will ensure that we don't create problems for voters this November.

My concern is that this misleading headline - "Minneapolis election officials predict 75% turnout" - will be used to justify criticisms of this fall's election when and if the turnout is lower than 75%.

And, of course, all indications are that turnout will likely be less than 75%.  In addition to the turnout numbers cited by Eric Roper for past municipal elections (46% in 1997, 45% in 1993), it's important to note that many state and federal elections haven't reached 75% voter turnout in Minneapolis.  The 2010 election saw 56% turnout, the 2006 election saw 66% turnout, and even the 2004 presidential election saw "only" 70% turnout.

The City's decision to staff for a 75% election is a good one.  It reduces the chances that voters will face delays and other election-day problems.  But it's not a prediction or projection of turnout.


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