LETTER: Ranked-choice voting has advantages

Published on August 23, 2022

Originally published in the Sun Current, August 21, 2022.

To the editor:

Back in 2020, I voted on the Bloomington ballot for ranked-choice voting after doing some research online and in the local newspapers about it.

I thought it had several advantages over the existing plurality voting system we currently had: Its efficiency, its basic simplicity and the fact that this type of system promotes building broad majority coalitions by candidates rather than catering to smaller political bases that often represent more immoderate views.

That year, ranked-choice voting was voted in as the system for Bloomington.

Ranked-choice voting is not a new or iconoclastic system of voting. More than two dozen cities across the United states use ranked-choice voting for local elections. They range from large cities like New York and San Francisco to small cities like Vineyard, Utah; and Eastpointe, Michigan.

Five cities in Minnesota – St. Paul, Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Minnetonka, and Bloomington – used ranked-choice voting for mayoral and council races in 2021. Democratic and Republican parties routinely use ranked-choice voting in leadership elections and nominating contests, and 2020 saw both parties make great strides with it.

In the last few months, I’ve become aware of an effort afoot to place on the Bloomington ballot this fall a measure to repeal ranked-choice voting. An anti-RCV organization submitted a petition to the Bloomington City Council that would not only repeal it, but also require two-thirds voter approval for future ranked-choice voting adoption, a higher voting threshold than the 51% threshold set by state law.

The City Council met on Aug. 8, and in a 7-0 vote, the council unanimously rejected the petition to repeal ranked-choice voting, and passed a resolution rejecting the petition as inconsistent with state law and therefore not eligible to be placed on the November 2022 general election ballot.

Nothing about democracy is necessarily tidy and perfect. Robert Kennedy, Jr., said it is “messy, and it’s hard.” Important institutions like voting and our electoral systems, while not flawless, work best when they are straightforward, transparent and devised in such a way that they optimize voter choice, power, accessibility and representation of the electorate.

Karen Nobbe Stephens

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