Many cities and local governments in the United States struggle to voter turnout to be high in
municipal elections that are held in odd-numbered years. As most states and the federal
government have races in even-numbered years, there are usually few high-profile draws to
encourage voters cast ballots during these elections. With fewer voters making their opinions
known in local races, there is a greater likelihood that local governments are not truly
representative of their residents.
In Minneapolis, MN, voter turnout in the most recent municipal election was nearly thirty
percentage points lower than just a year before during the presidential election of 2016. In the
municipal vote, citizens tended to be older, whiter, and wealthier than the overall city population.
With fewer people voting and offices that are less known, there was less engagement with local
One solution to the issue of low municipal election turnout is to merge these races into an evennumbered
year to coincide with state and federal ones. The rationale behind this policy choice is
that greater numbers of voters participate in those general elections and would therefore be more
likely to make choices for offices in their locality if they were on the same ballot.
The purpose of this report is to present what policymakers in Minneapolis might expect for
turnout in local government races if it were to transition its elections to coincide with state and
federal ones in even years to solve its turnout problem. Minneapolis is compared to 22 similar
cities and counties based on their elections in even years and what the decrease in voter turnout
is from top-of-the-ballot races for governor, senator, or president to local races such as for
mayors, judges, and sheriffs. Data in the analysis comes from publicly available elections results
from the websites of the comparison municipalities. Based on the analysis in this report, average
drop-off in turnout is about eight percentage points, meaning that Minneapolis would likely
encounter much larger turnout for its local offices.
Professional paper for the fulfillment of the Election Administration certificate.
Adams, Dylan B.
Record Turnout: An Analysis of Moving Minneapolis Municipal Elections to Even-Numbered Years.
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