Luke Frederick, Minnesota House Representative from the Minnesota State University area, visited the MSU College Democrats to discuss a ranked choice voting bill that will potentially impact Minnesota elections as well as bills impacting campaign donations.
Ranked choice voting, as explained by College Democrats’ president Storm Novak, is an electoral system that allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference rather than only choosing one. The winning candidate must acquire at least 51% of the votes to win the election. The candidate with the lowest amount of first-choice votes is dropped first and all ballots with them as the top choice shift to their second place choice. This process continues with all the lowest voted-for candidates being dropped until one has a majority of votes. Voters are not required to rank all candidates and they are free to vote for one.
According to Frederick, this would allow third parties, women and minority candidates a greater chance of electoral success and therefore create a more even playing field.
“The idea of this is to eliminate the entire concept of a ‘throwaway vote,’” Novak said. “It just makes it a lot easier for votes to accurately express peoples’ opinions.”
Critics say this system creates complications and confusion for voters, especially those who do not follow each candidate closely, and for election tellers when counting ballots.
This system is growing in popularity as more states and municipalities adapt it into their electoral process. One of the most notable being Alaska, where first-term representative Mary Pelota of the Democratic Party won the state’s House of Representatives race in November 2022, beating the more widely known Republican former governor, Sarah Palin.
College Democrats member Max Shannon spoke on the benefits he envisions for third party legitimacy should the bill pass.
“Right now, as it stands in the United States, they just really can’t (win). Third parties are seen as a laughing stock. So to expand those and have third parties having a place in American politics is just something that is very important, I believe,” he said.
Frederick and the College Democrats also discussed the Market Bucks Bill, which would give two $25 vouchers to each pre-registered voter to use for campaign contributions to candidates or parties.
“It’s an idea to try to put more power into people and allow people to express their voice through those donations to whoever it is that they want to donate to,” he said. “Which means every individual then has more power in their voice and that is more of a direct competition to the big corporate money.”
Frederick, representing Minnesota’s 19B district in Mankato and parts of Blue Earth County, works on human services and election administration issues in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
The Minnesota Legislature has not passed these bills as they are still in development stages.