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Cali Owings, Published November 05 2013

Moorhead to change election schedule to even years

MOORHEAD – Voters here decided Tuesday the city elections no longer will be held in odd years.

Instead, 57 percent of voters favored moving to even-year elections that will align with school board, county, state and federal races, according to complete but unofficial results.

The city’s Charter Commission put the question to voters because of the extra per-voter costs to hold elections in odd-years. The average city election in Moorhead costs about $16,172, or $3.94 per voter.

The average even-year election costs the city $27,552, according to the city clerk. Per Moorhead voter, the average cost of a federal/state election is $1.61.

Jim Danielson, Charter Commission member, said the change will save the city a lot of money, especially as the state moves to updated voting systems in the next few years.

The city also struggles to staff and find volunteers to work the polls in off-year elections.

Opponents of the change argued it would divert attention from local issues and make city elections more partisan.

Just more than 5,500 votes were cast Tuesday in Moorhead on this issue, with 3,137 in favor of the change and 2,386 against it.

Danielson said the switch to even years will boost voter participation in local elections.

“A relatively small percentage of the city is deciding who the mayor and the council members are going to be,” he said.

The change will go into effect for the city’s next election cycle.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Cali Owings at (701) 241-5599