City Election Turnout: 1993-2013
Minneapolis voters will go to the polls this November to elect their city leaders. Sadly, despite the fact that local government has a more significant impact on voters’ daily lives, turnout for municipal elections lags participation in state and federal elections. In recent years, that downward trend has worsened — in Minneapolis, across Minnesota, and throughout the nation. Research shows that declining participation in municipal elections skews representation in favor of whiter, more-affluent, older, property-owning voters. That disproportionate level of participation can result in policy priorities and outcomes that create disadvantages (or worsen existing disadvantages) for some communities and uneven prioritization of public spending, investments, and the allocation of resources.
In 2013, Minneapolis achieved a 33% turnout rate, which reversed a declining trend over the previous decade. Still, that level of participation is far lower than in previous years. For example, in 1997, Minneapolis achieved a 46.5% turnout rate. This year, we want to push turnout as high as possible. To support that goal, Elections & Voter Services is working to make access to the ballot as easy as possible. Here are some examples:
1. Get registered – or verify your registration status
You can’t vote if you’re not registered. You can register in advance using on-line tools from the Secretary of State, or you can register at the polls when you vote. Learn more about registration requirements.
2. Use your sample ballot to practice
Your sample ballot is the key to being prepared. It shows all races, questions, and other issues on the ballot exactly as they will appear on your official ballot. Here’s a pro tip: print your sample ballot and use it to review and make your decisions, then take it to the polls with you and use it as a guide in filling out your official ballot. You’ll save time that way, and reduce the potential for errors in the process. Sample ballots can be accessed from the website a few weeks before Election Day, so be sure to check back.
3. Vote early, at your own convenience, either—
§ By Mail: If you opt to vote by mail, then you have the luxury of completing your ballot from your favorite spot—the couch, the park bench, the bus, wherever. It’s up to you! Just be sure to follow the vote-by-mail instructions that are included with your packet and get your completed ballot submitted by no later than October 30 to ensure it’s received and counted in the final tally of results. § Early In-Person: If you want, you can come to the City’s Early Vote Center and cast your absentee ballot in-person, get assistance in the process, and check this year’s election off your to-do list. The Early Vote Center opens Friday, September 22, and will be open Monday – Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., through November 6. Extended in-person service hours will be available in the final two weeks, so check the City’s website for more details about available hours at that time.
4. Vote at the Polls on Election Day
Finally, you can go to your assigned polling place on Election Day (November 7) and cast your ballot. Again, remember to use your sample ballot to practice, and bring it to the polls with you to expedite the time spent in the booth completing your official ballot. Polls will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Check the EVS website for information about poll locations and other voter resources.
No matter how you choose to participate, it’s important to engage, to cast your ballot, and to make sure your voice is heard in this year’s election. Remember, it’s Your City. Your Vote.