Low turnout in Atlanta runoff -- time for instant runoff voting!
- You can't ask for a better reason for instant runoff voting than a
runoff election that no one participates in. Now's the time to talk
to people (especially legislators, candidates and reporters) about
instant runoff voting.
Check out www.improvetherunoff.org for the campaign to do just that
in San Francisco (get rid of the separate runoff election and go to
instant runoff voting).
AJC, SUNDAY November 11, 2001
Tepid turnout likely in council runoff
Dana Tofig - Staff
Sunday, November 11, 2001
The candidates for Atlanta City Council president expected to be
it out in a runoff election on Nov. 27 but they didn't expect to be
"We're the top of the ticket now," said Cathy Woolard, who will face
Michael Julian Bond for the city's second-in-command slot. "We'll be
ones driving the turnout."
Many expected the mayor's race to go to a runoff, too. But Shirley
eked out a majority of the votes and --- pending Tuesday's recount ---
outright. So on Nov. 27, the candidates for council president and
other races will try to inspire folks to push away the Thanksgiving
leftovers and holiday card lists to vote in a runoff. Again.
"We have to work harder because you don't have that big-ticket item
anymore," said Bond.
It could prove to be a tough task to get the 82,499 Atlantans who
Tuesday to come back.
"I think there will be a substantial drop-off," said Charles Bullock,
University of Georgia political scientist. "They'll be lucky to have
come back. [The council president's race] just didn't generate the
light that the mayoral contest did." Anyone who was eligible to vote
election Tuesday can vote in the runoff --- even if they didn't cast a
ballot in the general election.
The council president presides over council meetings, appoints the
and members of the council's standing committees and only votes in
of a tie. But the council president can also forge coalitions among
members and foster a good --- or contentious --- relationship with the
"This election is just too important for people to go away," said
Both candidates are pushing voters to come out on Nov. 27 but also
important for them is where they turn out.
There are six council runoffs. Two are for citywide at-large posts.
on Nov. 27 is likely to be higher in the four districts that also
council runoffs --- districts 1, 3, 6 and 7.
Bond now represents the 3rd district and Woolard represents the
sets of candidates will be trying to get voters out," Bullock said.
In the general election on Tuesday, 25,035 residents of districts 1,
and 7 voted for city council president. Of those, about 45 percent
for Woolard and about 20 percent voted for Bond. And to Woolard's
benefit, the 6th district may be the most motivated to vote because
four runoffs: council president, City Council at-large, the district
and the 47th state house, which covers part of the area.
Bond's advantage comes in districts 9 through 12, which are heavily
African-American. Districts 10 and 11, in southwest Atlanta, had the
highest voter turnout in the general election, over 50 percent each,
they overwhelmingly supported Bond. The moral: Bond needs to get the
out in neighborhoods that don't have any council district runoffs.
"[Bond] should probably try to mobilize the black community," Bullock
As for campaign strategy, Bond said he is getting out on the street
every morning and spending the day meeting with voters. Bond said he
his campaign staff are going to walk every street in the city and
voters to show up and vote for him on Nov. 27.
"There's no new way to campaign," Bond said. "If you don't have voter
contact into neighborhoods, you're not going to win."
Woolard has been targeting people who are likely to vote for her.
who asks for a campaign sign, sends in a donation or expresses
Woolard has his or her name put in a database. Sometime before Nov.
those people can expect a phone call or an e-mail urging them to turn
"The phone calls that we make . . . we are making into households for
people that we know are going to vote for Cathy," said campaign
Beth Schapiro, who estimated there are more than 18,000 households in
"We knew that there would be a runoff," she said. "We know that the
of the runoff will be the person who is best able to turn voters
If tradition holds, turnout in the Nov. 27 runoff election in Atlanta
likely drop compared to the general election. In the past two city
elections, the turnout has dropped, despite a mayoral race at the top