Minneapolis Could go over Budget for November's Election
The chair of the Minneapolis Elections Committee says it's very possible the city will go over budget on November's mayoral election -- and the extra spending could swell to hundreds of thousands of dollars. So who's going to get stuck with the bill?
On a per-voter basis, the city of Minneapolis spent more than five times as much money on the last mayoral election as it did on the previous two presidential elections. Part of that is due to ranked choice voting
, which the city says will save it money in the long run because there's no need for primaries.
But costs this year could skyrocket.
Minneapolis is in the midst of a massive push to the polls -- mock elections, voter ambassador training, and a new website -- all aimed at teaching voters how to navigate new technology and ranked choice voting before November 5th.
"That is a huge task," said Anissa Hollingshead, project manager for voter outreach and education for the city of Minneapolis.
It begs the question: What's the price tag?
"At this point, we are doing the work that needs to get done so that we can get the message out there," Hollingshead said.
Back in February, the city elections office told the city council, "Put plainly, the Clerk's Office lacks sufficient financial resources to plan and conduct the 2013 municipal election." Elections officials asked for an extra $400,000, but the council said no.
"The sentiment of the council was, 'Well, let's just see what happens this year," said Cam Gordon, chair of the council's Elections Committee.
That leaves elections officials with a budget of less than $600,000 for November's election. That's 20 percent less than what was spent on the last municipal election, when fewer than 20 percent of voters bothered to cast a ballot.
This year's mayoral race is expected to draw more voters to the polls, which likely means higher costs.
Gordon said any extra spending will be covered.
"I also have reassurances from my council colleagues that should it cost us a little more money in the end with all of our voter outreach and all the work we're doing, we'll be able to fill that with contingency funds," Gordon said.
Gordon said Minneapolis sets aside a chunk of its budget for unintended costs, and that right now, election spending is within its budget. But he said an overrun of $100,000 or $200,000 is certainly possible.
He also said he's looking at ways to change the way future elections are budgeted, so that municipal elections get more money before they're held.