City election had 2nd-lowest turnout in recent yearsLast week’s municipal election had the second-lowest voter turnout in a city election in more than a decade.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
Last week’s municipal election had the second-lowest voter turnout in a city election in more than a decade.
Only 23.4 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the election, which decided if Mitchell would add a city manager and also selected two members of the Mitchell City Council.
The lowest turnout for a city election was the 2009 June contest, when just 13.2 percent of the city’s voters, or 1,580 people, went to the polls.
The largest turnout was in the 2010 general election, when 5,448 people, or 55.7 percent of voters, went to the poll to vote on two issues: the Sunday sale of packaged liquor and designating land near Lake Mitchell as park land. There were state elections, including one for the state’s lone House seat, also on the ballot on Nov. 2.
The biggest voter response in a strictly municipal election was in June 2002, when 46.4 percent of voters, of 4,518, went to the polls to vote on a school opt-out, one City Council race and one school board seat.
Finance Officer Marilyn Wilson compiled the election history for the council, which met in Mayor Lou Sebert’s office Monday afternoon to canvass the election and formally declare the winners.
Wilson had predicted a turnout of 30 to 40 percent based on a record early vote. She said 374 people cast early votes, leading her to believe turnout would be greater than it was.
“I guess I won’t use that number anymore,” she said.
Ward 4, which had a threeway council race, had the highest turnout, with 724 voters, or 26.8 percent going to the polls.
Ward 3, which did not feature a council race, saw 596 voters, or 23.9 turnout.
Ward 2, which had a council race, had 493 votes, or 22.4 percent.
Ward 1, which did not have a council race, had the lowest turnout, with 479 voters, or 19.9 percent.
The vote totals were identical to those reported on Election Night.
An initiated measure to pass an ordinance and add a city manager to the city staff was rejected 1,486 to 782, a 65.5 to 34.5 percent margin.
Ward 2 Councilman Dan Allen won re-election by defeating challenger Tim Moon 345-128, or 73-27 percent.
Greg McCurry claimed the vacated Ward 4 seat with 363 votes, or 50.9 percent of the vote.
Marc Bernard finished second with 320 votes, or 44.9 percent.
Deb Skibsrud-Bueber garnered 30 votes, or 4.2 percent of the vote.
Wilson said the election went smoothly. No one who came to the polls and asked for a ballot was refused because they were not registered, she said.
“We had no provisional ballots this year,” Wilson said.
A provisional ballot is cast when then there is a question if a voter is eligible. The ballot is kept separate and only counted if it is determined they are in fact a registered voter.
There have been a few provisional ballots in other recent elections, Wilson told the council.
She said voters came prepared.
“People are getting used to bringing their identification,” Wilson said.
The election was reviewed by a majority of council, with Mayor Lou Sebert, Council President Jeff Smith and council members Dan Allen, Doug Backlund, Geri Beck and Mel Olson in attendance. Councilmen Marty Barington, Travis Carpenter and Scott Houwman were absent.
Once the election totals were approved, the meeting, which lasted slightly more than 10 minutes, was adjourned.
Smith wished Allen well as he prepares to start his new term.
“Well, you’re official, Mr. Allen,” Smith said. “Congratulations.”
“Oh boy,” Allen said, drawing laughter from the city officials.
After the council meeting adjourned, Smith asked for a closed-door meeting with Sebert and Olson. After that meeting, he declined to reveal what was discussed, noting that it was not a quorum of the council and no actions were taken.
Smith said it was city business and he wanted input from the other city officials.