My first election in this country was the Minneapolis election in 2006. I was excited as a first-time voter to be able to help pass instant runoff (also called ranked choice) voting in Minneapolis and now I get to actually vote this way in the election in Minneapolis this year.
Being a new voter in this country, I don’t understand all the changes this new way of voting will bring to how politics works in Minneapolis, but I know what it means for me as a voter.
First, it means that I only need to go to one election. There will be no September primary because instant runoff voting folds two elections into one in November. That’s one of the benefits of this new way of voting because not very many voters turn out to vote in local primaries. All of the candidates will be on the ballot to choose from in November, when most of the voters come out to vote.
Second, it means I get to rank my choices – first, second, third. This year, we have an open city council seat to fill in Ward 10 and there will probably be three or more candidates on the ballot. If one of the candidates is popular and wins a majority of first-choice votes, that candidate wins the election. But if none of the candidates wins a majority in round one, then there is an “instant” runoff. The least popular candidate is dropped and the voters who voted for that candidate have their second choice counted in the next round. All of the other voters’ first choices continue to count. The ballots are tallied again and if one of the candidates receives a majority of votes, that candidate is elected. If not, this process is repeated until one of the candidate wins with a majority.
I love how simple and democratic it is.
You can learn more about IRV at FairVote Minnesota at www.fairvotemn.org or contact the Minneapolis Elections Office at www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/elections/.
Anita Gopalaswamy came to the United States from India as a student in 1997. She and her husband, also from India, and their child live in ECCO. They became United States citizens in 2004.
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