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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


A Reader Comment on Primaries & Recounts

A writer who wishes only to be identified as “Concerned South-Side Resident” asked me about the cost of holding the primary and now a recount, and commented:

Seriously, 6 or 8 people hanging out down at Fire Station 4 all day just so we could eliminate one very marginal candidate is not my idea of fiscal responsibility on the part of said candidate. If she truly cared about the city, she would’ve faced the writing that is on the wall and, like Wykoff, withdrawn until she had a better grasp on getting elected.
My understanding from a passing conversation with the city clerk is that the primary cost the city something around $38,000; I don't know what the recount will cost, but it will probably not be a great deal, since there just aren't that many votes to be counted over again.  But the point remains -- we apparently spent about $21 per ballot cast.  And for all we know at this point, the last-place candidate may decide the margin was so close for the 4th spot that she should mount a write-in campaign for the November election anyway.

In the past our council has had some discussion about whether it makes sense to move to even-year elections.  There's some merit to that idea, but perhaps we should consider other possibilities that have been put forward in the past, such as having a higher threshold of candidates to require a primary in future elections.  I'm guessing that, not having a city charter, ranked choice voting like Saint Paul is using this year is not an alternative available to us, but that's only a guess.

In any case, we should have a conversation about this, especially in these tough economic times when we're looking at every possible way to stretch the taxpayers' dollars.


Correct, ranked choice voting is only available to charter cities. That could be easily eliminated by the legislature if they so choose, regardless of whether you have a charter or not. The legislature trumps everything else.

Saint Paul will prove that ranked choice voting does not translate into increased voter participation. They will continue to have their miserable turnout. Instead of having it for a primary and a general, they will just have it for the general.

As long as an overwhelming majority of elections are held in the even state general election year, off year elections will continue to have miserable turnout. Certainly not what anyone would call very democratic.

North Saint Paul school board saw the light, moved elections to the even year, now have that money to spend on the children.

Roseville now spends the tens of thousands of dollars they saved by switching to even year elections on programs that the citizens want.

My guess is that more people use the park system than vote in these off year elections.

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