ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) – DFL lawmakers introduced legislation on Thursday to bring ranked-choice voting for state and federal elections in Minnesota.
Currently, ranked-choice voting, which allowed voters to rank candidates in order of preference, is already used in local elections in some cities, like Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Bloomington.
Under the system, candidates are removed in stages. If your first-choice candidate is removed, your vote goes to your second-choice and so on.
The stages continue until one candidate reaches a majority of the vote. Proponents of the system say it ensures the winning candidate has broader support among a voting base versus standard elections. Critics however say the process is complicated and makes transparency more difficult.
Speaking Thursday, the lawmakers behind the effort touted it as a way to dissuade ‘toxic’ politics.
“Ranked-choice voting is the best step we can take to reduce extremism and division,” argued state Senator Kelly Morrison, the bill’s chief author. “When I talk to voters in my purple district, I hear concerns from people on both sides of the aisle about how toxic politics and division are damaging our democracy.”
“For years, it has impacted our ability to problem-solve and address issues, even issues that are broadly popular because of the dysfunction and gridlock in our government,” Morrison added. “In elections that use ranked-choice voting, candidates have to appeal to their opponents’ supporters for second and third-choice votes. And they do that by running positive campaigns that focus on policy solutions rather than personal attacks. Candidates must build broad coalitions to win.”
“We live in echo chambers and we don’t communicate with everyone,” said Rep. Cedric Frazier. “That is not what our democracy was meant to be. I believe this bill, ranked-choice voting when we implement it, it will create and get us closer to the democracy that was meant to be. A democracy that is representative of everyone. A democracy that gives a voice to everyone. A democracy where every representative communicates with every single segment of their community.”
Republican Senator Mark Koran refuted the measure, while questioning the basis for a change, considering the current system works: “Our election system has worked for generations ensuring every vote cast for a candidate is included in the final vote in a simple and fair counting of the ballots. Ranked Choice Voting removes the assurance and transparency we have come to expect from our elections. Valid ballots may cease to be counted based on who they voted for during the various cycles of counting, and that’s not fair to those voters. Recent elections by RCV in Minnesota haven’t really changed candidate quality or reduced negative campaigning like the advocates say it would. Lastly, RCV is more likely to provide a winner who earned less than a majority of votes, and everybody’s third choice may not be the best choice.”