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Low turnout in Atlanta runoff -- time for instant runoff voting!

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  • midwestdemocracy@yahoo.com
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 13, 2001
      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).

      Dan Johnson-Weinberger
      www.fairvote.org

      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
      slugging
      it out in a runoff election on Nov. 27 but they didn't expect to be
      the
      main event.

      "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
      the
      ones driving the turnout."

      Many expected the mayor's race to go to a runoff, too. But Shirley
      Franklin
      eked out a majority of the votes and --- pending Tuesday's recount ---
      won
      outright. So on Nov. 27, the candidates for council president and
      several
      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
      there
      anymore," said Bond.

      It could prove to be a tough task to get the 82,499 Atlantans who
      voted
      Tuesday to come back.

      "I think there will be a substantial drop-off," said Charles Bullock,
      a
      University of Georgia political scientist. "They'll be lucky to have
      half
      come back. [The council president's race] just didn't generate the
      heat and
      light that the mayoral contest did." Anyone who was eligible to vote
      in the
      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
      chairs
      and members of the council's standing committees and only votes in
      the case
      of a tie. But the council president can also forge coalitions among
      council
      members and foster a good --- or contentious --- relationship with the
      mayor's office.

      "This election is just too important for people to go away," said
      Woolard.

      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.
      Turnout
      on Nov. 27 is likely to be higher in the four districts that also
      have city
      council runoffs --- districts 1, 3, 6 and 7.

      Bond now represents the 3rd district and Woolard represents the
      6th. "Two
      sets of candidates will be trying to get voters out," Bullock said.

      In the general election on Tuesday, 25,035 residents of districts 1,
      3, 6
      and 7 voted for city council president. Of those, about 45 percent
      voted
      for Woolard and about 20 percent voted for Bond. And to Woolard's
      further
      benefit, the 6th district may be the most motivated to vote because
      it has
      four runoffs: council president, City Council at-large, the district
      seat
      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,
      and
      they overwhelmingly supported Bond. The moral: Bond needs to get the
      vote
      out in neighborhoods that don't have any council district runoffs.

      "[Bond] should probably try to mobilize the black community," Bullock
      said.


      As for campaign strategy, Bond said he is getting out on the street
      early
      every morning and spending the day meeting with voters. Bond said he
      and
      his campaign staff are going to walk every street in the city and
      convince
      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.
      Anyone
      who asks for a campaign sign, sends in a donation or expresses
      support for
      Woolard has his or her name put in a database. Sometime before Nov.
      27,
      those people can expect a phone call or an e-mail urging them to turn
      out
      and vote.

      "The phone calls that we make . . . we are making into households for
      people that we know are going to vote for Cathy," said campaign
      strategist
      Beth Schapiro, who estimated there are more than 18,000 households in
      the
      database.

      "We knew that there would be a runoff," she said. "We know that the
      winner
      of the runoff will be the person who is best able to turn voters
      out."

      WANING INTEREST
      If tradition holds, turnout in the Nov. 27 runoff election in Atlanta
      will
      likely drop compared to the general election. In the past two city
      elections, the turnout has dropped, despite a mayoral race at the top
      of
      the ticket.
      ........General...Runoff
      Year....turnout...turnout
      1997....31%.......29%
      1993....46%.......37%
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