Rank Your Choices: Easy As 1-2-3
By Casey Joe Carl, Minneapolis City Clerk
2017 is a municipal election year, and that means time for Ranked-Choice Voting. RCV is easy as 1-2-3. You have the option of ranking the candidates in each race on the ballot as your first, second, and third choice (including the ability to include a write-in candidate). With RCV, voters choose the candidate they prefer, just like they would with a traditional ballot. However, they also have the ability to rank other candidates in the same race, if they wish. If a candidate receives a majority of first-place choices, that candidate wins. If not, the least popular candidate(s) is/are eliminated and the ballots for that candidate are divided among the remaining candidates based on a voter’s subsequent choices. That process continues until one candidate gains a majority of support. Or, in the case of multi-winner elections, until all seats are filled.
Minneapolis voters approved the use of RCV for municipal elections in 2006. It was first used in the 2009 Municipal Election and then again in the 2013 Municipal Election. In a 2013 post-election survey, 92% of participating voters knew they would be given the option of ranking their ballots and 82% of voters did so. Of the respondents, 87% found RCV simple to use and 81% indicated they understood RCV fairly or perfectly well. Those high marks reflect an informed electorate. In the end, a solid majority—53% of voters—said RCV should continue to be used for municipal elections in Minneapolis.
RCV fosters wider participation in political processes by expanding ballot access through a single, high-turnout general election in November. It also promotes greater civility in political campaigning, as shown in the 2013 election here in Minneapolis. And, most importantly, it increases choice and the strength of a voter’s voice in the electoral process. In order to prepare, the City’s Elections & Voter Services Division encourages you to review the educational materials available on our website, at vote.minneapolismn.gov, and to use your sample ballot to practice making your choices in each race. You can bring your marked sample ballot to the polls with you to help complete your official ballot, too. Election workers will be attending a number of community events this summer to help promote awareness and turnout for the municipal election on November 7. That includes education about Ranked-Choice Voting and the options it provides to all voters.