Multi-partisan city elections

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Last week I wrote a piece correcting the history of Tulsans for Better Government and the three charter changes recommended by the Citizens' Commission on City Government. In that entry, I quoted a statement in the Citizens' Commission report that some of the commissioners preferred my notion of multi-partisan city elections to non-partisan elections. A commenter asked for more information on the idea, so here it is.

In short, a multi-partisan election gives voters information about the candidates by allowing the candidate a choice of labels to appear next to his or her name. That might be a national party label, or it might be the name of a strictly local political grouping. The idea differs from our current system, in which only a national party label may appear (which may not paint an accurate picture of a candidate's platform on local issues), and the proposed non-partisan system, in which no label whatsoever would appear (providing the voter no information at all about the candidate's affiliations and ideas).

This system is in use in the United Kingdom, where candidates for local councils may run as a Labourite or a Conservative, but often run under a strictly local party banner. Minneapolis has had such a system for many years, and the city recently adopted Instant Runoff Voting to improve the voters' control over electing their preference from a group of three or more candidates. Minneapolis allows each candidate a three-word ballot label expressing his or her "political party or political principle."


I set out a detailed multi-partisan election proposal for Tulsa in an April 5, 2006, column.

Councilor John Eagleton promoted the idea back in 2007. When the Tulsa Whirled published an inane editorial ridiculing multi-partisan elections, I wrote this response.

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My wife asked me the other day if we could put a sign in our yard for Maria Barnes, the former Tulsa District 4 city councilor who is seeking to take back that seat. For my wife, the decision comes down to this: Incumbent councilor Eric Gomez, who defe... Read More


W. said:

I'm not convinced that multi-partisan descriptions on the ballot are good enough. The sheer brevity of three or fewer words just isn't going to be sufficiently descriptive to justify the change.

There's another way to get scads of information about candidates to voters: They get off their duffs and campaign.

Spoken like someone who has never run for office.

A description would serve as a mnemonic device. It can't communicate everything about a candidate's views, but it can provide a memorable link between the name on the ballot and the "scads of information" a voter receives about each candidate.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on August 9, 2009 12:21 AM.

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