Moving City Council elections from May to November four years ago was a big improvement. But much of that improvement is counteracted by the fact that most elections are determined in December runoffs, when turnout is just as bad as in May.
A month after record midterm turnout, participation in last night’s runoffs was predictably awful.
General Election: 22,044
Percentage of GE turnout: 21.5 percent
General Election: 21,962
Percentage of GE turnout: 17.1 percent
General Election: 31,757
Percentage of GE turnout: 34.4 percent
The results in District 1 were the clearest display of the problematic nature of runoffs. Salazar held Harper-Madison to a virtual tie in the general election and then got crushed in a super low turnout runoff. The dynamic wasn’t quite as unfair as the District 10 runoff two years ago, where Sheri Gallo went from a clear victory in the general to a lopsided defeat in the runoff, but still…
While November turnout this year crushed turnout in the November 2014 midterm election, fewer people turned out to vote in the runoffs last night than did four years ago.
Very weird. That is no doubt because there was also a mayoral runoff in 2014 that helped generate awareness of the runoffs.
2014 runoff turnout: 5,710
2018 runoff turnout: 4,745
2014 runoff turnout: 4,282
2018 runoff turnout: 3,753
2014 runoff turnout: 12,412
2018 runoff turnout: 10,914
Republicans generally aren’t interested in making elections more democratic, so my guess is that there is not much hope to push for eliminating runoffs, which I believe are enshrined in state law, until the Democrats take over state government. Municipalities should be allowed to put in place ranked-choice voting.
Update: For some reason when I was comparing the 2018 to the 2014 figures I forgot the super-relevant fact that there was a mayoral runoff in 2014. That helps explain the lower turnout this year. I’ve updated the article to reflect that.