A Victory for Local Democracy: Minnetonka Rejects Repeal and Votes to Save Ranked Choice Voting

Published on November 7, 2023

Minnetonka, MN (November 7, 2023) — Tonight, Minnetonka voters resoundingly rejected a City Charter amendment to repeal ranked choice voting (RCV), and for the second time in three years, Minnetonka voted in favor of ranked choice voting for its municipal elections, this time by an even bigger margin. With all precincts reporting, RCV (Vote No on Repeal) won 59% to 41% and won every precinct. The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting Minnetonka, a group of Minnetonka residents and democracy advocates who organized to reject the amendment, is applauding this win for a stronger local democracy.

“Saving ranked choice voting is a win for our city, its voters, and the broader democracy reform movement,” exclaimed Vote No Campaign Co-Chair Barb Westmoreland. “The results confirm that Minnetonka voters like ranked choice voting. It’s easy, efficient, saves money and increases voter turnout.”

State Senator Kelly Morrison (SD 45) who represents the northern half of Minnetonka applauded the win for RCV. “I am thrilled that Minnetonka, once again, voted in favor of ranked choice voting. RCV encourages broad coalition building, discourages negative campaigning, and eliminates the spoiler problem,” Sen. Morrison explained. “It is exactly what we need in this moment when divisiveness and extremism are threatening our democracy.”

“I am so proud of my community,” said Vote No Campaign Co-Chair Mary Pat Blake, “and I’m grateful that our city’s voters showed up in an off-year election to save RCV and continue to lead on a stronger local democracy.” Blake credited the assistance of local volunteers who worked in support of the campaign with creating the momentum for victory: “It’s great to see the grassroots efforts of residents pay off in such a big win,” declared Blake, “and we’re hopeful this puts an end to the efforts of a small group of opponents trying to turn back the clock and reinstate local primaries where only 5% of Minnetonka voters participated.”

Fifty-five percent of Minnetonka voters adopted RCV just three years ago in a high turnout presidential election, and now 59 percent have voted in favor of RCV for municipal elections once again.

Minnetonka’s first ranked-choice election in 2021 demonstrated the positive impact of RCV:

Minnetonka successfully used RCV again in Tuesday’s elections with 13 candidates running for four Ward Council seats.

Prior to the adoption of RCV in 2020, Minnetonka required a city primary in August anytime there were more than two candidates on the ballot, and then held a second general election in November with the top two candidates from the primary. Minnetonka has held ten municipal primaries between 1985 and 2020, and without RCV, would have held two more primaries in 2021 and 2023, at an average cost of $50,000 each. Only a small percentage of the city’s voters showed up to vote in those August primaries, on average only five percent, and that small number of Minnetonka voters would decide which candidates advanced to the general election ballot, preventing the larger voter pool in November from weighing in on all the candidates.

“That primary discouraged candidates from running and effectively limited those selecting our city leaders to a small, elite group that showed up to vote in August,” explained Blake. “RCV eliminates the need for a separate primary election and opens up our local elections so that more candidates are running and more voters are weighing in on the full slate of candidates in November, when turnout is higher and more inclusive of our whole community.” She added, “This result is a big win for the city, its voters and local democracy.”

“I am so proud Minnetonka rejected this repeal and saved ranked choice voting!” declared State Senator Steve Cwodzinski (SD 49), who represents the southern half of Minnetonka. “Ranked choice voting encourages civility in campaigns and allows our elections to focus on what we can do together, rather than tearing each other apart. I’m happy to see Minnetonka keep that progress moving forward –– not only for us, but also for our children and grandchildren.”

In addition to the state senators representing Minnetonka, key organizations, current and former elected officials, and community leaders from across the political spectrum supported the effort to save RCV in the city, including Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, Fmr. Governor Arne Carlson, State Representative Laurie Pryor, Former Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, the Democratic Farmer Labor Party, the Minnesota Independence Alliance Party and Minnesota Green Party. For a full list of supporters see: rcvminnetonka.org/supporters.

Twenty-one cities in seven states are using ranked choice voting this general election, including five cities in Minnesota––Bloomington, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, St. Louis Park and St Paul. We know from polling here in Minnesota and around the country that voters consistently say that RCV is simple to use, and that they like it and want to keep using it. Minnetonka just confirmed that sentiment at the ballot box.

By voting NO on repeal the city’s voters saved RCV in Minnetonka, rejected an attempt to circumvent the majority of voters in an off-year election, and reinforced the democracy reform movement in Minnesota and across the country. The future is bright for RCV in Minnesota. Earlier this year, a new state law created a study to explore possible expansion of RCV, among other voter engagement efforts, and this session, RCV advocates will work to pass a Ranked Choice Voting Local Options bill giving more cities and other local jurisdictions the ability to adopt RCV if they wish.

More information about Ranked Choice Voting can be found at https://www.rcvminnetonka.org/ and RankYourVote.org.

The Vote No on Repeal Campaign to Save RCV is supported by the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting Minnetonka.

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