City Council elections and voter turnout

City Council elections and voter turnout

Postby Finbarr Saunders » Tue Jan 05, 2016 2:02 pm

I would like to discuss the possibility of changing the process to allow at-large candidates to be elected in the primary (just as the Mayor and City Judge are now) with 50% plus 1.
This may result in moving the 5th District to the election cycle with the other district contests ( and would result in the extension of the 5th district representative for 2 years).

Also, I would like to discuss ideas to help encourage better voter involvement in City elections.
City Council several years ago approved a process to allow the "early Voting" process to simply be extended thru Election Day without opening all of the precincts - in other words streamlining the process. That was denied by the Election Commission.

We might consider asking the Election Commission to mail ballots to all registered voters, which certainly would increase participation but not necessarily informed participation.
Finbarr Saunders
 
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Re: City Council elections and voter turnout

Postby Nick Della Volpe » Thu Mar 24, 2016 10:02 am

Finbarr Saunders has proposed changes to the council member election process for the at-large reps. That was followed by a note from Bill Lyons talking about regrouping the numbered districts (1 thru 6) in one election cycle, with the 3 at-large council seats grouped in another cycle and allowing the primary to be a final election if the at-large candidate got at least 51% of the vote (like now occurs for mayoral races).
I challenged Lyon's and Saunder's suggestion:

"Thanks for the note.
You ignore, however, that :
1) the staggered terms are designed to keep a reasonable skill level on council after elections, i.e. 4 one year, 5 another ; and
2) that treating at-larges differently gives an unfair advantage to the incumbent seeking a second term. It takes awhile for a new candidate to get the word out, while the incumbent can trade on name recognition in a low turn out primary before the challenger gets up a head of steam.
The voters rights trump any inconvenience of old men running for a second term."
Nick Della Volpe
 
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Re: City Council elections and voter turnout

Postby Nick Della Volpe » Thu Mar 24, 2016 10:25 am

Two further election process aspects actually could use further review and possibly change, however.

1). Reporting Dates.
The financial reporting should be streamlined, as requiring a state disclosure report followed by a separate city report the next week or so is duplicative and time-consuming, and fussy. Some candidates ignore the separate city report-- that sets a bad example for any would-be city leader.
We need to ask why do we seek such information? How could it be improved to reach that goal?
Let's require each candidate to report sufficient information (I.e., combining requirements for city and state data) each month during the relevant state reporting period, and cut out the duplicative requirements.
Voters need to know who gave, date, amount, and the donors' business affiliation (to screen for conflicts of interest) on gifts over the dollar threshold amount.
Basically Monthly Reports plus the one just before Election Day to avoid holding donations in a hip pocket till its to late to be meaningful to voters). Most folks these dates submit a computer spreadsheet, so a cumulative report is easy.

2). Turf Fairness. A second question concerns effectively having 4 west Knoxville reps = a 2nd district rep + 3 at-larges which so how all seem to be from West Knoxville. Fair?
There out to be turf limitations. E.g., 1 from west, 1 from east, 1 from south. Even though I am proud of our at-larges current efforts, that may not hold true in the future. Divide the residential source of the 3 at larges to keep it fair to the citizens being represented.
Nick Della Volpe
 
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Re: City Council elections and voter turnout

Postby Nick Della Volpe » Thu Mar 24, 2016 1:19 pm

3). Also Cost.
The 3rd fix ought to be to reduce the high cost of elections. Why not shorten early voting to 4 or 5 days max? Most of the action happens in the last few days anyway. If you are out of town that week plan, for a paper or absentee ballot.
Nick Della Volpe
 
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