When voters go to the polls Tuesday, November 3 in Minneapolis, they will be asked to vote in a new way: they will be able to rank their first, second, and third choices for mayor, city council, and other local offices.
The new system of voting is called “Ranked Choice Voting.” Minneapolis voters approved the new system in a 2006 referendum by a wide margin. This year’s election will be the first time Ranked Choice Voting will be used in Minneapolis, although the system is in use in seven other cities around the nation.
“Greater participation and choice are two huge advantages of Ranked Choice Voting,” said Jeanne Massey, executive director of FairVote Minnesota. Massey led the 2006 referendum campaign that put Ranked Choice Voting in place in Minneapolis.
Massey noted that voter turn-out in primary elections is historically low. In the non-partisan election system used in Minneapolis in recent years, the September primary election eliminated all but the top two vote-getters. So voters in the general election in November saw only two choices on the ballot.
Under Ranked Choice Voting, all candidates who file for election will be on the November ballot, when the voter turnout is much higher.
By filling in ovals on the ballot, voters will choose their first, second and third choices. Voters do not need to vote for a second or third choice. But, if they do, all choices must be different. You cannot, for example, vote for the same candidate for your first, second and third choices.
If no candidate receives a majority of the first choice votes, then a process begins to count voters’ second or third choices to determine the winner.
The 2008 elections might not be the best showcase for the advantages of Ranked Choice Voting,” Massey advised. “This year in Minneapolis there aren’t that many competitive elections to demonstrate its value… You need to see how this goes over time.”
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