A new bill could change the way you vote

Published on March 21, 2023

(ABC 6 News) – Those who are for ranked choice voting say it’s going to give people a more accurate representation of the office and those who are against it say if passed things might get a little messy.

“It’s more talking about issues and discussing issues,” said former field organizer for Fair Vote Minnesota Anna Froehling.

She says about 70 percent of elections have a clear-cut winner with 50 percent or more of the vote. But the other 30-percent of elections are trickier. In some states, the winner is just whomever gets the most votes. In others, like Georgia, voters will vote again in a runoff election between the top-two candidates. But two other states, Alaska and Maine do what is called ranked choice voting.

“Rank choice voting changes how we normally would vote,” said Democratic Representative Andy Smith.

Here’s how that works. Instead of a primary, all candidates make it to the general election ballot. Instead of choosing one candidate, voters will rank each candidate as their first choice, second choice, third choice, and so on. If nobody gets 50-percent of the 1st-choice votes, the counting continues, and 2nd, 3rd, and other choice candidates are added to the mix. Candidates will then be mathematically eliminated until there is a clear winner.

“And that’s what we want. We want an election system that actually gives us what the people in that area what for their representatives,” said Froehling.

But not everyone is on board. Republican Representative Duane Quam says he’s skeptical about the system because he believes it would prolong the counting process.

“Not having the results in a timely fashion cause people to do more speculation and they get all worked up. And frankly I don’t think that’s good for the system,” said Rep. Quam.

Representative Quam says he’s also worried about confusion at the ballot box as voters try to figure out a new system.

“But I see a lot of people that are concerned about the process,” said Rep. Quam.

But Rep. Andy Smith thinks these concerns will work themselves out.

“We have a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds, we speak a lot of different languages. Of course, any transition we make in any program is gonna have a little bit of hiccups, or will be confusing or have some hard points, but I just think the benefits far out way that,” said Rep. Smith.

Right now, there are some cities in Minnesota that do rank choice voting for local offices like Minneapolis, Minnetonka, St. Louis Park and Bloomington.

A big reason why other cities haven’t done this is because under current state election law these cities have to host elections on off years so if this bill gets passed ranked choice voting will be allowed on the ballots for the general election for state and local offices.

Originally published in the ABC 6 News
Published on March 16, 2023

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