Record Turnout: An Analysis of Moving Minneapolis Municipal Elections to Even-Numbered Years


Record Turnout: An Analysis of Moving Minneapolis Municipal Elections to Even-Numbered Years

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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 politics. 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.

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Adams, Dylan B. (2018). Record Turnout: An Analysis of Moving Minneapolis Municipal Elections to Even-Numbered Years. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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