Thursday, November 26, 2009

Minneapolis instant runoff voting - lowest turnout since 1902

Minneapolis had its first instant runoff voting election on Nov 3, and had the lowest voter turnout since 1902, well over a hundred years. This was the lowest turnout since Mayor "Doc" Ames, also known as "The Godfather of Minneapolis left office while under investigation for corruption. So much for the claim that IRV magically increases voter turnout.

Low-key mayoral contest depressed Minneapolis turnout, officials say
At 20 percent, turnout hit a low not seen since 1902. Results released Wednesday were good for incumbents. By STEVE BRANDT, Star Tribune November 11, 2009
Unofficially, 45,964 votes were cast for mayor this year, or the lowest since 35,837 were cast in 1902, when the city's population was about 54 percent of its current estimated population.

The article title incorrectly says "officials" claimed "low-key mayoral contest depressed Minneapolis turnout." But the reporter does not cite officials saying this, but does cite Tony Hill, a Minnesotan working on his phd in poli sci. The title should have said "political scientist says" rather than "officials say".

I thought it would be interesting to see what was happening with Minneapolis politics in 1902, the year with lowest turnout in the state until Minneapolis' first IRV election this year:

"The Godfather of Minneapolis" Albert Alonzo "Doc" Ames (January 18, 1842 – November 16, 1911) held several terms as mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the late 19th century and very early 20th century. He was known for his geniality and assistance of the poor, sometimes giving medical treatment to those who could not afford it. However, he became much more famous for leading the most corrupt government in the city's history.

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