Clerk: More funding needed for Minneapolis elections

Expecting a high voter turnout in 2013 because of an open mayoral race and several hot City Council races, City Clerk Casey Carl is asking for an extra $386,000 to handle this year’s election.

The last city election, in 2009, cost the city $775,000 to administer. This year, the City Council allocated just under $600,000 for the election.

Carl says he needs more money in order to buy and install new voting equipment, deploy more election judges, train those judges for new equipment and increase education and outreach. Plus, he said the city should to be prepared for the possibility of a hand-count.  

Carl said all of the money he is requesting would come from left over funds from his 2012 budget. Carl said he kept four positions in his office vacant for several months.

Betsy Hodges (Ward 13) made a motion at today’s Elections Committee meeting that would mix Carl’s request with other department requests later in March, when Council members decide what to do with leftover revenue from the 2012 budget.

“Of course we want to make sure we have the resources needed for our 2013 elections,” Hodges said. “We want to make sure that those go smoothly and well for the residents of Minneapolis.”

Hodges said she supports more funds for the election, but the Council will have to take a close look at the entire City Clerk budget, which is about $5 million annually.

“It may well already be in his budget and we’re going to need to take a close look at that,” Hodges said. 

In 2009, 46,000 residents cast ballots in the city election. That year, R.T. Rybak didn’t face a serious challenger. In 2005, 71,000 ballots were cast when Rybak took on Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin. In 2001, when Rybak defeated incumbent Sharon Sayles Belton, residents cast 90,000 ballots.

This year already a half dozen candidates have announced they’re running for mayor, with a few more dipping their toes in the water. Plus, a few Council wards — 13, 9 and 5 —  have open seats.