The Secretary of State’s office is putting together a statewide task force that will examine the new voting method Minneapolis residents will use in future municipal elections.
The group will look into issues related to instant runoff voting (IRV), a method in which voters rank candidates in order of preference rather than choosing one.
The first meeting of the so-called Ranked Choice Voting Issues Group will be held from Wednesday, June 27 from 10:30 a.m. to noon in Room 181 of the State Office Building, 100 Martin Luther King Dr. in St. Paul. The task force will include elected officials, elections professionals, and community and advocacy group stakeholders. Anyone interested in participating is also welcome to attend, although the Secretary of State’s office would like those who plan on coming to notify the department by phone at
Council Member Elizabeth Glidden (8th Ward) said because Minneapolis will be the first municipality in the state to implement IRV, this task force and its discussions will be important for the city. It will also be important to work on a statewide level since other communities have also expressed an interest in using IRV, and achieving statewide consensus could be a benefit in negotiations with voting equipment vendors, Glidden said. Minneapolis residents approved the use of IRV during the 2006 elections. The city needs to work with state officials to figure out exactly what measures need to be in place before the city uses the new voting method for the first time, she said.
Glidden was one of several local and state officials who traveled to Scotland in early May to view how that country implemented for the first time the single transferable vote, a voting method similar to IRV, in its local government elections. Some of the most important things Glidden said learned from observing the process in Scotland are that investment in good ballot design with clear directions is key; precinct-level counts that notify voters at the polling station of ballot errors are essential; polling station aides are an important tool in assisting voters in navigating a new voting method; and voter education efforts will increase the success of the new method.
“It was really helpful just to see what went into the election process,” Glidden said.