Saturday September 30th 2023

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‘Voting and Elections’ Archives


By THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS MINNEAPOLIS This is the fifth in a series of six articles about the 2023 Minneapolis City Election, brought to you by the League of Women Voters Minneapolis. All articles available at Young Americans have been gathering strength and exerting more influence in recent elections but need help realizing their full political force as voters. For the health of our democracy, we want them to do so. While historically underrepresented at the polls, more 18–29 year-olds voted in the 2020 presidential election nationally than in 2016- close to 50%. Even 2022 midterm turnout was better than expected, inching toward 30%. A positive trend but a far cry from the electoral clout the second-largest age demographic in the U.S. could have. Generation Z (for Zoomer) are those born between 1997 and 2012, with Gen Z young adults expected to make up 17% of all eligible voters by 2024 and 35% by 2036. Combine Zoomers (sometimes called Plurals) with their older siblings and largest generation, Millennials, and the Brookings Institution expects them to account for a majority of all potential voters within this decade and 60% by 2036. It benefits us all that they are civically educated and engaged. Pew Research Center describes our youngest voting block as more racially and ethnically diverse, progressive, and with positive attitudes toward government. Research also proves Gen Zs low voting numbers are not due to a lack of interest on their part. Studies from CIRCLE, the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University’s Tisch College, consistently show that outreach, even one interaction, correlates with higher youth voting. When that doesn’t happen, barriers for young voters – particularly first-time voters – remain in place, perhaps for a lifetime. Although highly concerned about the issues in the 2022 midterms, less than half of the young voters CIRCLE surveyed were [...]

Be An Informed Voter: Understanding Ranked-Choice Voting

By LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS MINNEAPOLIS Number 4 in a Series Since November of 2009, Minneapolis has employed ranked-choice voting in all municipal elections, and will do so again this year. Ranked-choice voting (RCV) is a method of voting where you can choose up to three candidates in the order of your preference. You are given the opportunity to ‘rank’ your vote - first choice, second choice, and third choice. The identical roster of candidates will be listed in three columns on your ballot, one column for each choice. This voting method allows your vote to count toward another candidate if your favorite (first choice) candidate loses on the first ballot. For example, if your first-choice candidate doesn’t win, your vote is transferred to your second choice. Then, if your second choice is eliminated, your vote is transferred to your third choice. It is important to understand that you are not required to vote for more than one candidate – the second and third choice candidates are optional. But the advantage to ranking three candidates is that it potentially gives you more of a say in selecting a candidate of your choice. HOW TO MARK YOUR RCV BALLOT Choose your top candidate. This is your first choice candidate and will be the vote that is counted first. Mark your first choice in the first column.If you have a second choice (optional), choose an additional candidate. This choice must be different from your first choice candidate. Mark your second choice in the second column.If you have a third choice (optional), you may choose an additional (and final) candidate. This choice must be different from your first and second choices. Mark your third choice in the third column. HOW YOUR VOTE IS COUNTEDAll first choice votes are counted on the first ballot. If no candidate has the required number of votes to win on the first ballot -- more than 50% -- the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Next, all of the eliminated person’s [...]

Right to Vote Restored to 55,000 Paroled Felons

By THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS MINNEAPOLIS On March 3rd Governor Tim Walz signed into law legislation that restores the vote to more than 55,000 formerly incarcerated Minnesotans. In the largest expansion of voting since 18-year-olds won the right to vote in 1972, Minnesota joins 22 other states to give felons their voting rights, once they have completed their prison term. Previously anyone serving on probation or parole had to finish that extended sentence before voting rights were restored. Walz called this “a good day for democracy. We’re a country of second chances…and the idea of not allowing those voices to have a say in the very governing of the communities they live in is simply unacceptable.”After two decades of advocacy, a large coalition of groups sued the state for this constitutional right under the principle of no taxation without representation. One of the plaintiffs, Jennifer Schroeder, had served one year for a felony drug charge – but was given a 40 year probational sentence on her release. The language in the lawsuit pointed out that “the Plaintiffs have been deemed safe to live in their communities where they raise their children, contribute to Minnesota’s economic, cultural, religious, civic and political life, and pay taxes…but Minnesota denies plaintiffs an essential indicium of citizenship, the right to vote.” The Supreme Court ruled against the plaintiffs saying the law didn’t violate the state’s Constitution and sent it back to the Legislature. In response, Senator Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Minneapolis) and Representative Cedrick Frazier (DFL-New Hope) sponsored the Restore the Vote Act which successfully passed. Secretary of State Steve Simon is working with the Department of Corrections to spread the word about this new voting right. The bill requires that a written notice and a voter registration application be given to each of these individuals on their release from prison, and to alert them that as of July 1 [...]

City Council Candidates Are On The Ballot —What Has Changed Since 2021?

By THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS MINNEAPOLIS Because of the redistricting process completed in 2022, every Minneapolis City Council member will be up for reelection this year to serve a two-year term; only in 2025 will Council candidates be back on the ballot for the traditional four-year term. Also, this will be the first election for the thirteen City Council members following major changes to the City Charter (the city’s constitution). Charter Amendment No. 184, passed in the municipal election of 2021, has redefined our city structure. Before this process, the Government Structure Work Group described the city “as a complex patchwork of existing laws that has been in place since 1920.” Known for years as a “weak mayor-strong council” system, Minneapolis has been transformed into an “executive mayor-legislative council” form of government. But what does that mean? What role will the City Council play now? In the 1980s Mayor Don Fraser failed to pass a strong mayor charter amendment after multiple attempts had been made in previous decades. As a compromise, he devised a proposal which passed: an executive Committee made up of the Mayor, the City Council president, and up to three City Council members. Together they had a say in hiring or firing department heads. But this was described over the years as an unruly “governance by committee.” In 2004, Steve Berg, writing in the Star Tribune, called the city’s structure “one that makes no one accountable and puts no one in charge.” He called it inefficient and costly. Close to twenty years after that article appeared the situation has changed. The 2021 Charter Amendment No. 184 has consolidated all administrative authority under the office of the Mayor - the city’s chief executive officer - in a single chain of command. The Executive Committee has been eliminated. All department heads are chosen and supervised by the Mayor alone. The City Council confirms all of these appointments. [...]



Article #6 in a series of articles about the 2022 midterm elections, brought to you by the League of Women Voters Minneapolis. MY VOTE. WHAT DOES IT MATTER? We’re often encouraged to vote. “It’s important. It’s our duty. It makes a difference.” But really what does it matter? How does my vote affect me? Actually, our one vote affects an outcome directly only when we’re voting on amendments, like the three on last year’s ballot. Instead, what our vote really does is elect a PERSON to represent us, a person whose vote in Congress or the Legislature reflects our wishes. That’s why we have to examine candidates thoroughly beforehand to see that their views correspond to what we need and want. For example, if we’re interested in public safety, we’ll want to know a congressional candidate’s attitude toward gun violence and qualified immunity. How they vote on our behalf may give us better (or sometimes worse) protection. How do prospective state legislators feel about training for police? Are they willing to help fund it adequately? Where do the sheriff and county attorney stand on law enforcement? Will strict enforcement -- or more lax enforcement -- make us feel safe? What is their attitude toward justice? Many people are similarly concerned about taxes. Will we benefit more if we pay less and have more money in our pockets? Or will we benefit more with better services – like safe roads or good schools? How will legislators use the money that the federal government has set aside for Minnesota? What about access to abortion services in Minnesota. Candidates for the legislature need to know our views and vote as we, their constituents, believe. Low-cost housing is another issue facing law makers. We may gain from knowing we won’t be evicted. We may benefit from government subsidies. We may rejoice at finding just the right home at an affordable price, thanks to government funding or policy – based again on our [...]

Who Votes, Who Doesn’t and Why?

Who Votes, Who Doesn’t and Why?

ARTICLE #5 IN A SERIES OF ARTICLES ABOUT THE 2022 MIDTERM ELECTIONS, BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS MINNEAPOLIS. Recent Supreme Court rulings have exposed the reality that government representatives often don’t act in accordance with the will of the people. Polls indicate, for example, that Americans support access to abortion, yet the highest court in the land rescinded that right. So why the disconnect? It’s about voting – who votes, who doesn’t and why. Among the pool of all eligible voters in the U.S., approximately 1 out of 3 did NOT vote in the 2020 Presidential election. The top reasons that these 77 million Americans did not vote were 1) lack of interest in politics 2) they didn’t like the candidates and 3) they didn’t think their votes would matter. Those least likely to vote were under 34, Hispanic, less educated, unmarried and with lower incomes. Difficulty of voting was not identified as a major reason for not voting, but we know there are subgroups, such as those living with a disability or with logistical barriers (childcare, transportation) for whom voting can be challenging if not impossible. Then there are the disenfranchised. Minnesota is one of twenty states in which anyone convicted of a felony is prohibited from voting until they have been discharged from their entire sentence, including any term of probation or supervised release which may include monetary restitution. As a result, 57,000 individuals (1.5% of Minnesota’s voting population) are denied the right to vote. At the federal level, the most significant reason for the mismatch between Americans’ values and those of our elected officials is unequal representation in the Senate that gives smaller and less populous states more political clout. Because there are 2 senators elected per state, the 40 million people who live in the 22 smallest states get 44 senators to represent their interests, while the 40 million people in California get just two. [...]

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