St. Paul (April 2, 2020) — As the state government works to address the Covid-19 pandemic, the work of democracy and electing our representatives continues, albeit in different ways. In response to the current crisis and the need for physical distancing, Minnesota’s political parties have had to retool their traditional in-person conventions and are moving them online.
The Minnesota DFL has not only moved its conventions online, but has also adopted Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) for all of its races where there are contested endorsements. RCV is the smart and logical way to handle online voting with multiple candidates vying for endorsement. FairVote MN applauds the DFL for taking this approach.
Because no physical rounds of balloting are possible, the DFL will use RCV to facilitate endorsements at the 60% threshold in a single ranked choice ballot. In effect, each ranking serves as a round of balloting. Similarly, several southern states with runoff elections have long used a ranked ballot for overseas military voters to ensure these voters can participate in each round of voting.
It would have also been an effective approach for the recent Democratic presidential primaries in which thousands of Super Tuesday ballots cast early in Minnesota for candidates who dropped out of the race before election day, including Senator Klobuchar, were wasted.
RCV for party endorsements differs from RCV in general elections in two key ways: 1) An endorsed candidate must receive 60% support, not a simple majority of 50%; and 2) no endorsement must be a viable option in each round. The detailed rules specific to the DFL endorsement process are available here. The Utah GOP Party will also be using RCV for party endorsements this year.
As in any election, RCV is the most effective way to accomplish a more efficient and participatory election. It’s especially useful for online conventions in races with multiple candidates seeking party endorsement. It’s a solution that allows parties to complete multiple rounds of balloting in a single ranked ballot. Not only is it efficient, it also leads to stronger, more representative candidates. RCV empowers delegates to rank candidates in the order of their preference, and ensures those candidates have broad support and are in a strong position for the general election. FairVote MN urges all parties, including the Minnesota GOP, to adopt this simple but effective electoral reform for its conventions this year, and we stand ready to help.
“We can serve as a resource for any party that would like to adopt Ranked Choice Voting for its party conventions,” said FairVote MN Executive Director Jeanne Massey. “These are unprecedented times which require nimble and responsive action by candidates and political parties to allow for the democratic process to continue unimpeded,” she added, “and we are happy to do our part to assist them.”
FairVote MN is grateful for all of those in public service and otherwise who are working to address the pandemic. We must give due attention to the crisis while at the same time being attentive to our democratic institutions to ensure they represent the public interest and serve us effectively in moments of crisis. Ranked Choice Voting is an electoral reform that incentivizes bipartisan problem-solving over partisan polarization, and as this crisis underscores, we need that now more than ever.
Please contact Jeanne Massey for information about using Ranked Choice Voting for online party conventions and our other electoral reform efforts in Minnesota.