Naomi [userpic]

Election 2013, Volume 1, Issue 1: THE CLOWN CAR

August 24th, 2013 (01:49 pm)

I moved from Minneapolis to St. Paul last year, so I won't actually get to vote in this year's Minneapolis mayoral election. Nonetheless, (1) I am reluctant to give up my TINY YET POTENT slice of political influence, and (2) this year's Minneapolis mayoral race is just too entertaining not to write about.

As you know, Bob, Minneapolis has Instant Runoff for city elections (except for school board elections, which are under state legislative control). You're allowed to list your top three candidates -- oh, here, I'll link you to the explanation from the people who think it's awesome.

Minneapolis voted this way four years ago, but four years ago, it was R.T. vs. who even cares, R.T. was going to win, which he did, handily, I think in the very first round. (There were eleven candidates total.) This year, R.T. is retiring. The DFL didn't endorse anybody. And there are thirty candidates thirty-five candidates on the ballot.

In Minneapolis races in the past, you only get to rank your top three, which simplifies things a bit -- although, I just hunted down the relevant bit of the city charter, and in fact the requirement is that you be permitted to rank at least your top three. I looked up the charter because what I really wanted to know was this: let's say you've fully processed all the ballots, tossing out and re-assigning the votes for Captain Jack Sparrow (you think I'm kidding? I'm not kidding) and John Charles Wilson the Lauraist Communist (not kidding about that one, either), and the top candidate only has 45% of the vote. One of the benefits of IR is supposed to be that the winner will always have a majority, but what if the winner doesn't have a majority? According to the city charter, the top-vote-getter then wins. They could probably solve this by letting people rank their top five. Or their top ten. (It's permitted in the charter.) They haven't said they're doing this, though, so I'm going to predict right now that (a) they're just going to have people rank their top three, and (b) the winner is going to win with a plurality, not a majority.

I'll note that the way it used to work was that Minneapolis held a primary, and the top two advanced to the general election, and thus we always had a Mayor elected with an actual majority, if that's something that you view is important.

The ballot chaos could have been reduced a bit if they'd set a somewhat more challenging set of requirements for ballot access. For instance, if mayoral candidates had been required to get some reasonable number of signatures (the proposal I heard in a Star Trib editorial was that they should have had to gather 5% of the number of votes in the last election -- there were 46,000 votes, according to my quickly-googled data, so that would be 2,300 signatures). Or people could be required to either pay some sizable fee ($1000, say) OR get signatures. Really, ANYTHING would have been an improvement: under current rules, $20 gets you on the ballot. I think you also need a valid Minneapolis address and you have to be 18. It is a ridiculously low bar to clear, and I'm actually a little surprised that only thirty-five candidates resulted.

Even if they had created a higher bar to clear -- let's say it was just Mark Andrew, Jackie Cherryhomes, Bob Fine, Betsy Hodges, and Don Samuels (and I'll note that does not include all the candidates who are "serious," who have actual campaigns, endorsements from people you've heard of, political experience, and the ability to get on the ballot) -- with only three slots to rank candidates, it would be really easy NOT to hit the 50%+1 vote line required for a majority.

We'll see. It's going to be really interesting.

Wikipedia, helpfully enough, has a page with the full list of candidates and links to some of the coverage about them. Which almost makes me irrelevant, but I'm sure you'll all be tuning in for the wit and snark, not to mention the candidates popping up to complain about how I'm not treating them seriously. (CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW. Who the hell looks at THAT name and says, "oh yeah, THAT'S WHO I WANT RUNNING MY CITY.") They're allowed to have a little parenthetical statement next to their name, identifying their party, which some of them are using to push for their pet issue (and in fact there are people running who are suggesting that everyone should use their first vote or two to vote for someone with the pet issue they particularly want attention drawn to, which would be a slightly less ridiculous idea if people were allowed to rank all thirty-five (which is Captain Jack Sparrow's pet issue, apparently).

THE LIST. Cut for length.

Mark V. Anderson (Simplify Government)
Merrill Anderson (Jobs & Justice)
Mark Andrew (DFL), former Hennepin County Commissioner
Neal Baxter (Independent)
Troy Benjegerdes (Local Energy/Food)
Alicia K. Bennett (DFL)
Edmund Bernard Bruyere (Legacy — Next Generation)
Bob "Again" Carney Jr (Demand Transit Revolution)
Jackie Cherryhomes (DFL), former City Council President, lobbyist
Christopher Clark (Libertarian)
Dan Cohen (Independent), former City Councilmember, Ward 7
James Everett (Green)
Bob Fine (DFL)]
Cyd Gorman (Police Reform)
Mike Gould (DFL)
Kurtis W. Hanna (Pirate)
John Leslie Hartwig (Independent)
Betsy Hodges (DFL), City Councilmember, Ward 13
Gregg A. Iverson (DFL)
Bill Kahn (Last Minneapolis Mayor)
Jaymie Kelly (Stop Foreclosures Now)
Tony Lane (Socialist)
Doug Mann (Green)
Abdul M. Rahaman "The Rock" (We the People...)
Joshua Rea (End Homelessness Now)
Don Samuels (DFL), City Councilmember, Ward 5
Ole Savior (Republican)
Captain Jack Sparrow (Count All Rankings)
James "Jimmy" L. Stroud, Jr. (The People's Choice)
Jeffrey Alan Wagner (DFL)
John Charles Wilson (Lauraist Communist)
Cam Winton (Independent responsible inclusive), attorney
Stephanie Woodruff (DFL), software executive and Citizen Member of Minneapolis Audit Committee
Rahn V. Workcuff (Independence)
Christopher Robin Zimmerman (Libertarian)

So, a couple of thoughts off the top of my head.

1. You would have expected that Captain Jack Sparrow would be the one from the "Pirate" party, but you'd have been wrong.

2. Jackie Cherryhomes is made of solid evil. If you take nothing else from my posts, don't vote for her, and warn your friends not to vote for her. It's been long enough that there are going to be a decent chunk of Minneapolis residents that might not know a lot about her other than, she's obviously a legit candidate (former City Councillor!) and she's DFL and a woman, so cool, right? Wrong. SOLID EVIL. Don't be fooled.

3. The lone Republican on the ballot is Ole Savior. That's hilarious. He's one of those people who runs for some sort of office every single election cycle; it'll be interesting to see how he does this time around. He won't win, but neither would a well-established Republican with donors and endorsements and all the rest. This is not a town where Republicans win races. There are Republicans who live here, though, and I'm curious whether they'll generally vote for Ole (because hey, it says Republican after his name!) or if they'll shoot for someone who's a lesser evil with political experience. (Of course, with IR, they could do both! but my point here is that savvy Republicans wouldn't want Ole as Mayor anyway, because he may say he's a Republican but he has no political experience other than endlessly running for office. His vote tally will show how many Republicans in this town look at nothing other than the label.)

4. I wonder if they're going to be able to get all these people on one ballot, or if they'll have to go to multiple pages?

I'll be back another day with analysis and snark. (Actually, I'll probably be back a whole lot of days, because trying to do all thirty-five in one go is a recipe for burnout.)

By the way, I realized semi-recently that I have this substantial fan base of my political posts....who don't realize that I am also a fiction author. YES! I write science fiction and fantasy, which you can find at,, and at a bookstore near you, if you happen to live in the Twin Cities, because my print novels are carried by both Uncle Hugo's and Dreamhaven. If you're looking for an inexpensive sampler of my work, you could check out one of my short story collections, Comrade Grandmother and Other Stories or Gift of the Winter King and Other Stories. Probably my most politically-oriented fiction are the Seastead stories I've written in the last year; the first of them is available FREE online here, and two more were published in F&SF. The three published short stories actually form the first half of a novel, which I completed a while ago and have been trying to shop around with no particular luck so far. MAYBE one of those fans of my political posts is an editor or an agent who wants to have a look? Let me know!

Election 2013 Index of Posts.


Posted by: Sharon Kahn (dreamshark)
Posted at: August 24th, 2013 08:47 pm (UTC)

I love reading your political commentary on Mpls politics, Naomi. I'm glad you're continuing the tradition now that you're an expat. Even though I was paying attention at the beginning and even was a delegate to the endorsing convention, I must admit that I have lost track of the full Clown Car. In fact, I'm still trying to decide who to throw my third vote to! Going into the convention I was going to vote for Mark, Betsy and Gary (in an order yet to be determined). After the convention I had settled on Betsy-Gary-Mark in that order. Then Gary dropped out! Yikes, now what do I do with my 3rd vote?? Probably Don Samuels - I admire his unquenchable spirit. Or maybe I will take the "vote for your favorite slogan" approach.

It doesn't matter to me at all whether the winning candidate has a majority or just a plurality. In fact, I'm not even sure what that means with IRV. The winner will not necessarily be the #1 choice of the majority of voters, but will probably be voted for in some position by a majority. Not necessarily, of course. It's theoretically possible that 51% of the voters will vote for nothing but clown car candidates. But I think most people know who the front runners are and will be sure to include at least one of those on their ballot.

In fact, I think that Mark Andrew will probably come out with a majority no matter how you count it, with Betsy Hodges a close second. One of the others that you mentioned up top will probably be a distant third. Maybe Jackie, but I don't think she has much support. She was working the DFL Convention fairly hard, but washed out on the first ballot. All she has going for her is name recognition, and if even half the people who recognize her name actually remember the kind of politics she stood for that's not a plus. Ick.

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: August 25th, 2013 02:36 am (UTC)

I'm generally OK with pluralities; they have their risks (like Margaret Thatcher) but are in most cases a reasonable way to decide an election.

I just think it's a little ironic, given that one of the benefits of IRV is supposed to be that the winner always gets a majority (the site talks about this in some detail)....and that was true under the old system, and is not true under the new system.

I don't think a plurality result requires everyone to vote for clown car candidates. Looking at the list, I see seven candidates with some obvious plausibility:

Mark Andrew (DFL), former Hennepin County Commissioner
Jackie Cherryhomes (DFL), former City Council President, lobbyist
Dan Cohen (Independent), former City Councilmember, Ward 7
Bob Fine (DFL)
Betsy Hodges (DFL), City Councilmember, Ward 13
Don Samuels (DFL), City Councilmember, Ward 5
Stephanie Woodruff (DFL), software executive and Citizen Member of Minneapolis Audit Committee

Add to this that there will also be a fair number of people who will vote for only one candidate, and I think this race could very easily end up with a victor who got less than 50%.

Posted by: stargoatpdx (stargoatpdx)
Posted at: November 3rd, 2013 04:55 am (UTC)

I just think it's a little ironic, given that one of the benefits of IRV is supposed to be that the winner always gets a majority (the site talks about this in some detail)....and that was true under the old system, and is not true under the new system.

Back in 1998-2001, when I spent maybe 2000 hours promoting instant runoff, I think I would have said that if you’re not allowed to mark all the candidates it’s not really IRV. From a math-focused theoretical perspective this was just common sense. Part of what I mean by “theoretical” is that at the time there were just one or two cities in the U.S. where the use of preference voting for actual governmental elections was well-established; we didn’t know how things would play out in California or anyplace else where we might get a foothold. For a real-life domestic example, we had Cambridge, Massachusetts, where if there were 20 declared candidates for city council, each candidate would have a row of 20 bubbles next to their name. No big deal.

So from that perspective, the “majority” claim doesn’t apply to the Minneapolis, because Minneapolis isn’t actually using IRV yet.

(I expect if you looked hard enough, you’d find multiple statements from 2006 that unconditionally say: If the IRV measure passes, there will [still] be majority winners. Close, but no cigar.)

Limiting voters to just three choices can be thought of as a transitional step that helps get past a catch-22: It’s hard to get IRV legalized when the ballot-processing hardware is incompatible, and it’s hard to get compatible ballot-processing hardware purchased when IRV isn’t actually present in the law. But a lot of hardware can handle three choices. So you enact a law that lets you implement a limited version of IRV with just three choices; and then the next time you need to buy new hardware you make sure it’s compatible with an arbitrary number of choices. At which point you implement real, full-choice IRV.

You say Minneapolis just bought software that can only cope with up to three choices. I haven’t investigated this myself and don’t know the circumstances, but it’s hard to see such a purchase as anything but a major facepalm moment. Even if the people who approved the software didn’t know yet that there’d be 35 candidates in 2013, they did know (or should have known) that there’d been recent mayoral elections with 11 and 22 candidates. So there was a strong possibility that three choices would be nowhere near enough. If for some reason the city couldn’t find the political will to allow more than three choices, raising the bar for candidacy would at least have helped somewhat. Instead - nothing.

Posted by: stargoatpdx (stargoatpdx)
Posted at: November 3rd, 2013 05:09 am (UTC)

The point of that last paragraph being: The people in charge of Minneapolis elections have a responsibility to make choices that facilitate sound outcomes (e.g. the election of candidates who have popular support). With 20+ candidates, they might consider full-choice IRV to do anywhere from a fair job to an excellent job, depending on how much they like IRV. Whereas 3-choice IRV is likely to do an atrocious job -- much like a traditional runoff.

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: November 3rd, 2013 04:02 pm (UTC)

My understanding is that four years ago, they had no ballot-counting software that could handle it and it was done entirely by hand. (I could be mis-remembering.) This year, they have computer-countable ballots, so clearly in the interim they must have gotten SOMEthing.

The actual law as set out in the Minneapolis City Charter is that people have to be allowed "at least three" choices. So it's written a floor, not a ceiling -- but (not surprisingly) it's being treated as a ceiling.

Minneapolis is essentially a test case. Not a lot of cities are using IRV at this point, and even fewer have had a truly interesting race. (Minneapolis used IRV four years ago, but it was a very dull year.) I'd say that it makes for an interesting cautionary tale in a number of ways and IRV supporters in other cities should be looking at what's happening with an eye toward what you'll try to do differently in your own municipalities.

I would suggest, at this point, that ballot access restrictions be treated as an important aspect of implementation and not something to be endlessly put off lest the City Council people look like they're trying to avoid competition. I would also suggest that a "pick your top three" system is not a very satisfactory way to do IRV, given how many candidates you'll have to choose between in a competitive race. Finally, I'll note that in Minneapolis, IRV seems to have increased the importance of money in the municipal races -- but, that's a general trend and not entirely the fault of IRV.

The claim that IRV will decrease negative campaigning does seem to be true. The candidates have mostly been very polite to each other as they've tried to position themselves as a second choice for the other candidates' supporters. (This, alas, hasn't really helped from a voter perspective to actually figure out what the differences are...but oh well.)

I think turnout's going to be lower than it was in 2001 (the last year we had a truly competitive mayor's race) because so many non-wonks seem to be having the reaction, "this is too much effort; screw it." But we'll see! (And I want to note for the record that I am doing my part to help IRV succeed in Minneapolis by providing easily-accessible information for people who just want to know which ones are not loons and who the Progressives are voting for.)

Posted by: rosephile (rosephile)
Posted at: November 4th, 2013 05:37 pm (UTC)
polar bears Nature

You are, indeed. *helps you pat yourself on the back* Doing my more-last-minute-than-usual research today (hey, I've been sick and before that, on a trip/preparing for trip, EXCUSES).

Posted by: stargoatpdx (stargoatpdx)
Posted at: November 3rd, 2013 06:13 am (UTC)

I'm generally OK with pluralities; they have their risks (like Margaret Thatcher) but are in most cases a reasonable way to decide an election.

There are many different ways to conceptualize what is screamingly wrong with that statement. I will limit myself to three.

1. Election by plurality makes it much harder to cast an honest vote for your preferred candidate. If said candidate is not one of the top two, you can expect to be on the receiving end of a certain amount of abuse from people who are close to you. Friendships end, families split apart.

2. Election by plurality redirects power away from the voters and toward the appearance of popular support.

3. What percentage of voters can theoretically be guaranteed to win an election?
For the Minneapolis Park Board it’s just over 75%.
For the mayor of Minneapolis it’s just over 50%.
For a single-round plurality election it’s just over 0%.

Posted by: stargoatpdx (stargoatpdx)
Posted at: November 3rd, 2013 04:02 pm (UTC)

Okay so I failed to address a key point of the “generally OK with pluralities” quote: You’re acknowledging that plurality elections have some problems, but saying they’re reasonable “in most cases”. No election system is perfect, after all.

The problem with this is that the timing, frequency, and intensity of plurality’s defects are not random. It’s a bit like an electric fence that doesn’t kill you when you’re not touching it. In partisan elections, the more viable and well-supported a minor party is, the harder plurality works to crush it. The effect of plurality in nonpartisan elections is harder to describe but similar.

...Okay that’s five comments, one of them vehement, in the last 12 hours on a topic you don’t necessarily like discussing and which is already in your face anyway since you live in the twin cities. Sorry. I guess I would ask you to see this as a civil rights issue. Casually remarking that plurality is okay most of the time does not help.

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: November 3rd, 2013 09:21 pm (UTC)

I see the fundamental civil rights question here as, "how do we run elections fairly." There are two problems, essentially:

1. What makes the process fair? (And, part of that -- what makes a result fair? and who within the process are we most concerned about treating fairly?)


2. How do we balance perfect hypothetical fairness with practical considerations?

In Minneapolis right now, they are EXTREMELY fair to people who want access to the ballot. I mean, $20 and a signature on a form -- that's about as open as it gets. If you want to run for mayor and you live here, you can run for mayor and people will see your name and have the opportunity to vote for you.

Anyway. In designing a voting system, even once you've identified exactly what you mean by Most Fair, you then have to find a balance with the practical considerations. Like, how you would structure a ballot that lets people rank all their choices, in a way that does not cause a lot of uncorrected errors due to confused voters. But also, how you encourage people to make an informed choice when they've got thirty-five people to research.

Something I've found sort of fascinating is how challenging a lot of people are finding it to rank three. (Two is easy! Three is suddenly weirdly difficult. It's possible that five would actually be easier, but it's possible it would be even harder. It's weird.) (Part of what makes three difficult is that with my third choice, I'm trying to game out the most likely scenario where my third ranking is even looked at and then trying to decide on a lesser evil. But even if I were ranking all 8 of the top candidates, eventually I'm going to hit "lesser evil" territory. Honest Republican vs. Shady Democrat vs. Evil Democrat vs. Nice Guy Nepotist.)

Right now, we don't really know what's going to happen. We don't know what turnout's going to be like compared to 2001 (the last time there was a competitive mayor's race). We don't know how many voters will use their 2nd and 3rd votes (and use them properly -- despite education, lots of people seem to think that they should just vote for their favorite three times). We do know this will slow down the process of voting a lot; we don't know if the result at the polls will be super annoying, or if things will go pretty smoothly.

I will tell you, though: I cannot wait to find out. It is going to be absolutely fascinating to see how well this system works.

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: November 3rd, 2013 04:07 pm (UTC)

I would say that election with plurality when you get to make three ranked choices lets you cast an honest vote for your personal top two, followed by a "least of the likely evils" vote with your final vote. Although a different election could offer very different scenarios.

If, however, the ballots gets exhausted and the top candidate has some percentage that is markedly below the 50% point, this is going to be an election that frustrates a lot of voters.

Posted by: Magenta (magentamn)
Posted at: August 24th, 2013 10:24 pm (UTC)
Witch's Hat

Captain Jack Sparrow??? WTF??? Don't they have to use their legal name? Or is there someone out there... no it's too crazy.

I'm voting for Betsy, and maybe a Green or two. No way Cherryhomes, and no way Mark Andrew. He is a, a has-been, and b a corporate shill, IMHO.

Christopher Robin Zimmerman?? Googled him, and he looks like he must be Dean Zimmerman's kin.

This is going to make Jesse look like a reasonable choice.

Posted by: A Wandering Hobbit (redbird)
Posted at: August 25th, 2013 01:59 am (UTC)

Someone makes a habit of running for office here (Seattle/King County/Washington State) as "Goodspaceguy." He was on the ballot as just "Goodspaceguy." Apparently that is a middle name he adopted at some point, but it's as though John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt did all his day-to-day business as John Schmidt and put "Jingleheimer" on the ballot.

[San Francisco now requires candidates to put their legal names on the ballot, after the election some years ago that included Jello Biafra and Sister Boom-boom.)

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: August 25th, 2013 02:43 am (UTC)

Apparently you can run as Jingleheimer Schmidt if you habitually go by that name. How far you can stretch that is something that a number of candidates have tried to experiment with.

The bottom line is that if your legal name is William Jacob Goodman, but you've always gone by Jake Goodman and everyone calls you Jake, they WANT you to be able to run as Jake Goodman. But they don't want you to run as R2-D2 unless people for real actually call you R2-D2 or you have gone to court, filed the papers, and changed your real legal name to R2-D2.

It's surprisingly complicated to write a law that boils down to, "look, just use your NAME, okay?"

Posted by: dd-b (dd_b)
Posted at: November 4th, 2013 10:28 pm (UTC)

Yes, this is true for online forum IDs, convention badge names, and all other cases where it's been investigated as well.

Posted by: coho29 (coho29)
Posted at: August 25th, 2013 02:37 am (UTC)

Agreed about supporting Betsy Hodges, who I find smart and thoughtful. Agreed too about saying No to Mark Andrew and the reasons why. That guy and his corporate marketing push frankly terrify me.

Posted by: coho29 (coho29)
Posted at: August 26th, 2013 12:26 pm (UTC)

I expanded on this in the Issue 2 thread. My comments got auto-marked as spam, perhaps due to having lots of links. Naomi, I hope you are able to see those and mark them as not-spam :) Thanks!

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: August 26th, 2013 02:17 pm (UTC)

Un-screened. Thank you!

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: August 25th, 2013 02:39 am (UTC)

Apparently he changed his name:

The Star Tribune had an editorial this morning from a bunch of the clowns (here: ) in which they insist that they are VERY VERY SERIOUS CANDIDATES. Frankly, they'd have had a bit more credibility if one of the signatories hadn't been Captain Jack Sparrow. (I read that and thought, "Okay. I need to get started with my election coverage, clearly...")

Posted by: CRZ (CRZ)
Posted at: August 28th, 2013 05:21 am (UTC)

I am definitely not related to Dean Zimmerman. Do you really think I look like him?

(Googled myself tonight)

Posted by: Dan Goodman (dsgood)
Posted at: August 24th, 2013 10:58 pm (UTC)

Correction: I believe there are thirtyfive candidates, not a mere thirty.

Cam Winton is a Republican, but didn't bother seeking Republican endorsement.

I would like to have complete ranking -- and also a "none of the above" option, so I could rate candidates below it.

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: August 25th, 2013 02:45 am (UTC)

You are correct. Thank you. I've made the fix.

Posted by: Corinne (corinnethewise)
Posted at: August 25th, 2013 01:50 am (UTC)

Holy crap! I just read the part 1 of the Seastead stories. How can I get the other two that have been published? So so so good! (It's going to be like Firefly, isn't it, where we get teased, and there are big dark secrets and then we don't get to find out what happens because the whole book isn't published).

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: August 25th, 2013 02:50 am (UTC)

Thank you! All three have been published in F&SF. "Liberty's Daughter" was in the May/June 2012 issue; "High Stakes" was in the November/December 2012 issue; and "Solidarity" was in March/April 2013.

At some point, I'm going to put the two other published stories online, at which point you'll be able to read them; or, you can track down the back issues of the magazine.

I am trying (and trying and trying) to find an agent and/or an editor. At some point I will probably give up on this and self-publish and at that point you will be able to read the Kindle/Nook version. Self-publishing has gotten vastly easier in the last few years, and thus my frustration threshold is a lot lower than it would have been a decade ago. We'll see.

Posted by: A Wandering Hobbit (redbird)
Posted at: August 25th, 2013 02:00 am (UTC)

adrian_turtle asked me to pass along thanks to you for doing this, even though she is reading it from Somerville Bellevue.

As do I: in addition to their utility, which I suspect is minimal at our distance, they are fun reading.

Posted by: Lane (riverrocks)
Posted at: August 25th, 2013 03:44 am (UTC)

I have been getting three or more emails a week from the Jackie Cherryhomes campaign. Every time I get one I remember when she was pushing to turn the Savers across from the Midtown YWCA into luxury condos, a florist and a coffee shop. Not what that neighborhood needed. Didn't she leave office under some sort of corruption cloud?

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: August 25th, 2013 08:07 pm (UTC)

What I remember specifically: she was heavily involved in Block E, heavily involved in trying to shut down the Hard Times Cafe, and when she left office, she destroyed all the records of constituent contacts rather than leaving them for her successor (which was actively harmful to her constituents, mind you, not merely inconvenient for her successor.)

More dimly, I remember this being the tip of the ice berg. There was an awful lot of stuff done during the Sayles-Belton administration that I disapproved of really strongly (like using eminent domain to displace a bunch of perfectly functional small businesses in order to turn over that land to a larger corporation -- this was done with the downtown Target, and may also have been done for Block E, I can't remember; the breathtaking amount of money spent on that downtown Target was also an issue) and Cherryhomes was in the thick of nearly all of it.

Posted by: Sylvia (sylvia_rachel)
Posted at: August 25th, 2013 03:01 pm (UTC)

I don't live in Minneapolis (indeed, I have never yet been to Minneapolis), but I always greatly enjoy your insightful and hilarious political posts. (And I can enjoy the hilarity more when the politicians belong to someone else: I have long ceased to find Rob Ford funny.)

Thanks for the tip on the Seastead stories! Halfway through the first one, really enjoying.

Posted by: stargoatpdx (stargoatpdx)
Posted at: August 26th, 2013 06:18 am (UTC)

1. You know, I think “thirty-five candidates, seven of whom have obvious plausibility” has the dubious honor of being a situation where IRV with three choices might suck even worse than a two-round runoff system. Maybe. This could be addressed by, as you say, allowing five or ten choices instead of three. And I strongly agree with you that the current bar for candidacy is ridiculously low.

2. If you’re going to take the position that a two-round runoff system inherently produces either a majority or a tie -- i.e. if you choose to ignore the people who drop out between the first and second ballots rather than count them as part of the 100% from which the winning candidate may or may not have a majority -- then your determination of whether IRV has produced a majority should similarly ignore people whose ballots were exhausted because they didn’t mark a second or third choice.

3. I find your election analyses fascinating and decidedly entertaining reading, and I’m glad you’re still covering Minneapolis (or at least the mayor’s race) even though you’ve moved.

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: August 26th, 2013 02:22 pm (UTC)

Your second point is making no sense to me. I'm not sure if it's because I haven't had coffee yet, or if you need to expand on what you're saying.

I do think they could have fixed the situation this year by allowing more choices -- but they're not going to, because they just bought vote-counting software that can only cope with up to three choices, and they don't want to do it all by hand. Raising the bar for candidacy would have made it an easier ballot to print, but I think it would have only narrowed the field to ten or so candidates, most of whom would have some plausibility, which wouldn't really solve the problem here.

Posted by: stargoatpdx (stargoatpdx)
Posted at: November 3rd, 2013 04:52 am (UTC)

Wow -- I knew I’d let this go for a while, but I didn’t realize it’d been two months. Sorry for taking so long.

You say: we always had a Mayor elected with an actual majority

But you also say: Add to this that there will also be a fair number of people who will vote for only one candidate, and I think this race could very easily end up with a victor who got less than 50%.

It’d be a considerable reach to interpret these two statements as consistent. On the one hand, if someone doesn’t bother to vote during a traditional runoff election, you’re ignoring them. Say 60,000 people vote for the winner, 40,000 vote for the loser, and 125,000 don’t show up... you’re calling that a majority. Fair enough. But in that case, when an IRV ballot is “exhausted” because the voter marked just one choice and their candidate was eliminated, you need to ignore them too.

Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: November 3rd, 2013 08:32 pm (UTC)

OK, I re-read your first post and I think I get it now. The reason I found it so baffling is that Minneapolis has always had the opposite problem -- a small turnout for the primary, and a much larger turnout for the general. I'm sure there are a handful of people who voted in the primary but didn't show in the general but it would be a TINY number of voters. It's going to be far, far more common for people to vote just for one candidate, I think, although we'll find out soon if I'm wrong!

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