MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - When they go to cast their ballots in the Nov. 3 election, Minneapolis residents will be asked to vote on two questions regarding amendments to the City Charter.
The questions are yes/no and are voted on separately. The first question asks whether city council members should run for two, two-year terms in 2021 and 2023 instead of one four-year term while the second question asks when a special election should be held to fill a mayoral or city council vacancy.
You can see what's on your ballot at mnvotes.org
QUESTION 1: REDISTRICTING OF WARDS AND PARK DISTRICTS
This is how the question appears on the ballot: Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to allow ward and park district boundaries to be reestablished in a year ending in 1 and to allow the use of those new boundaries for elections in that same year; to allow ward and park district boundaries to be modified after the legislature has been redistricted to establish City precinct boundaries; to provide that an election for a Council Member office required by Minnesota law in a year ending in 2 or 3 after a redistricting shall be for a single 2-year term; and to clarify that a regular election means a regular general election?
Why is this question on the ballot?
The Minneapolis City Charter requires City Council members to run for four-year terms. The next municipal election is in 2021. All 13 city council seats as well as the mayor and the Park Board will be on the ballot.
However, a Minnesota law passed in 2010, referred to as the Kahn rule after former longtime DFL state Rep. Phyllis Kahn, requires cities to hold city council elections in years ending in 2 or 3 after a census is taken and ward boundaries are redrawn. The aim of the law is to ensure city council members are not representing wards whose demographics have significantly changed.
Due to the Kahn rule, all 13 Minneapolis City Council seats will be on the ballot again in 2023. If the Kahn-rule mandated election in 2023 is for a four-year term, the City Council will be on a different election schedule than the mayoral election, which would be in 2025 since the mayor is elected to four-year terms. The Kahn rule only affects city council.
Minneapolis City Clerk Casey Carl said this would increase the number of times voters go to the polls, which could lead to voter fatigue and lower turnout in city council-only elections.
The proposed charter amendment would make the Kahn-rule mandated city council election in 2023 for a two-year term, putting city council seats back on the ballot in 2025 and thus, realigning city council elections with mayoral elections. Carl said to think of it as breaking up the usual four-year term into two, two-year terms.
By resynching the election schedule, the city is hoping to minimize election costs, voter fatigue and low voter turnout, Carl said.
What happens if the charter amendment passes?
Due to the Kahn rule, there will be a city council-only election in 2023 regardless of if the charter amendment passes. If the charter amendment passes, it would mean the 2023 election would be for a second two-year term.
All 13 city council seats would then be on the ballot again in 2025 along with the mayor and the park board.
If the amendment passes, it would create a municipal election cycle that is only affected by the Kahn rule every 20 years. City council seats would be on the ballot in 2021, 2023, 2025, 2029, 2033, 2037, 2041, 2043, 2045 and so on.
What happens if the charter amendment does NOT pass?
The city would still have to follow state law and hold a city council election in 2023, but it would be for a four-year term, therefore splitting the municipal ballot, according to Carl.
If the charter amendment does not pass, city council seats would be on the ballot in 2021, 2023, 2027 and 2031. Due to the Kahn rule, the 2031 election would have to be for a two-year term and another city council election would be held in 2033 for a four-year term.
QUESTION 2: SPECIAL MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS
This is how the question appears on the ballot: Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to comply with Minnesota election law related to uniform dates for special municipal elections and to provide that a special election be held on a legal election day under Minnesota law that is more than 90 days from a vacancy in the office of Mayor or Council Member?
What is this question asking?
This question is asking whether the Minneapolis City Charter should be amended so it is in line with a state law that requires special elections to be held on a legal election day, even if that means the special election will be held more than 90 days after a vacancy on the city council or in the mayor’s office.
Why is this question on the ballot?
Minnesota law requires that special municipal elections be held on state-approved election days: the second Tuesday in February, the second Tuesday in April, the second Tuesday in May, the second Tuesday in August or the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
The Minneapolis City Charter, however, stipulates that a special election be held within 90 days of a city council or mayoral vacancy. This allows for circumstances in which the special election would not be held on one of the state-approved election days.
If the question passes, it would bring the city charter in line with state law and special municipal elections would be held on one of the five state-approved election days.
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