Boosting Voter Turnout, Saving Money: Why Maplewood Opted for Even-Year Elections
Adjusting to our Ramsey County neighbors and our main school district, Maplewood has recently switched to even-numbered year municipal elections to boost voter turnout and save a significant amount of money.
Under the old system, Maplewood would hold municipal and some school elections in odd-number years and hold statewide, congressional, and legislative elections in the even years.
Over a 10-year average, each of those odd-numbered year elections cost Maplewood taxpayers $58,408 with only a 27% turnout. Even-year elections, when voters are going to the polls to vote for statewide, congressional, and legislative races, garner a 70% voter turnout rate. That's why in 2016, Maplewood's city council started discussing the issue of moving to even-numbered year elections.
Changing from Odd to Even
As a Statutory Plan B city, Maplewood is allowed to choose to hold municipal elections in either an odd-numbered or even-numbered year cycle. The city followed the steps as outlined by Minnesota State Statute §205.07 to change to even-numbered year elections. The steps and timeline is as follows:
- The city council directed staff to draft an ordinance amendment to effect the change to even-numbered year elections at the March 14, 2016 city council meeting.
- The city council held a public hearing for the proposed ordinance amendment at the April 11, 2016 city council meeting. Notice of this was published in the Lillie News on March 30 and April 6, 2016.
- City Council heard the item and gave final approval on April 25, 2016.
- On May 4, 2016 the ordinance amendment was published in the Lillie News.
- At this point, Maplewood citizens had the option to file a petition that would have put the issue to a special election vote.
- As no petition was filed, the ordinance amendment took effect 240 days after publication on December 30, 2016.
What to Do with Odd Year Term Seats
There are provisions in Statute Section 205.07 directing that the governing body may adopt supplementary ordinances shortening or lengthening the terms of incumbents and those elected at the initial election. Otherwise, the default is that odd-numbered terms are automatically extended one year until the next even-numbered year election.
The City Council chose to allow the default and thus, as State Statutes dictated, Council terms expiring in 2017 were automatically extended one year to 2018.
Any Odd Elections Left?
Currently only four cities in Ramsey County still have odd-numbered year elections. One of these is St. Paul, which is currently looking into also changing to even-numbered year elections. Also, voting in odd-numbered years is Independent School District (ISD) 623 and ISD 624, which represents fewer than 4,000 Maplewood voters. ISD 622 votes in even-numbered years and is Maplewood's largest school district.