We Have a Problem
Political polarization and negativity has reached a crisis point. Americans not only disagree with each other, but fear and demonize those with beliefs different than their own.
Our current election system not only allows, but encourages candidates to run and win with a small base of voters. Since candidates are not required to earn majority support, many leaders take office solely representing their base and ignoring the demands of most Americans. This outdated voting system fuels negative and dishonest campaigning, creates “spoiler” dynamics, and allows winners opposed by a majority of voters. Once in office, rigid hyperpartisanship disrupts collaboration and blocks action on the issues that matter most to voters, resulting in gridlock and government dysfunction.
Minnesotans Have A Solution
Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is a simple but powerful change to the way we vote that changes the electoral incentives. It empowers voters with more choice by eliminating “the spoiler effect” and leveling the playing field for all candidates, it requires winning candidates to build a coalition of a majority of support through seeking 1st, 2nd, and sometimes additional choices, it ensures broadly supported winners in a single, decisive election, and it reduces negative campaigning. Minnesotans have been pioneering the use of this fair and easy voting method for more than two decades. Voters in cities where RCV is used overwhelmingly report less negative campaigning, increased satisfaction with elections, and a significant preference for RCV over the old system.
Current Legislation Under Consideration
In January 2021 Rep. Steve Elkins (Bloomington) and Sen. Kent Eken (Twin Valley) introduced RCV bills, companions HF89 and SF218, in the Minnesota House and Senate respectively. The appetite for co-authorship was so strong that four total clones were introduced, chief authored by Rep. Frazier (New Hope), Rep. Agbaje (Minneapolis), Sen. Lindsey Port (Burnsville), and Sen. Mary Kunesh (New Brighton).
Those bills include both statewide and local options RCV provisions:
- State and Federal Elections: The bills would require the use of RCV in primary and general elections for state constitutional offices, legislative offices, congressional offices and the office of president.
- Local Option: The bills would allow cities, townships, counties and school boards in Minnesota to adopt RCV by local ordinance – eliminating costly, low-turnout primaries and ensuring majority outcomes in a single, decisive November election when turnout is higher and more representative.
How to describe Ranked Choice Voting
Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is a simple but powerful change to the way we vote that empowers voters to rank candidates in order of preference, eliminates “the spoiler effect,” ensures majority winners for single seats in one decisive election, and reduces negative campaigning. Minnesotans have been pioneering the use of this fair and easy voting method for more than two decades.
Under RCV, voters can rank as many or as few candidates as they like from their favorite to least favorite — first choice, second choice, and so on. In a single-seat election, if a candidate receives a majority (50% + 1) of first-choice rankings, that candidate wins. If not, another round of counting occurs. The candidate with the fewest votes is defeated, and these ballots now count for those voters’ second choices. This process continues until one candidate reaches a majority and wins or in a multi-seat election, until candidates have reached the winning threshold and all seats are filled.Your vote counts for your second choice only if your first choice is eliminated. Sometimes called “instant runoff voting,” RCV is the most cost-effective and efficient way to ensure winners have broad voter support and eliminate spoiler and strategic voting dynamics.
How to describe FairVote Minnesota
FairVote Minnesota works for a stronger democracy through public education and advocacy for electoral reform. We specifically advocate for Ranked Choice Voting, a system proven to be more inclusive, democratic, and representative than our current plurality electoral system. We support RCV and other democracy reforms that promote greater participation, majority rule, and proportional representation.
We are a nonprofit, nonpartisan grassroots organization that engages hundreds of volunteers and thousands of supporters. Together, we work to educate voters and advance electoral reform at all levels in Minnesota.
- Two dozen cities in 17 states use Ranked Choice Voting for local elections. This includes 5 Minnesota cities – Minneapolis, St, Paul, St. Louis Park, Bloomington and Minnetonka.
- More than 545,000 Ranked Choice Voting ballots have been cast in Minnesota since 2009 when Minneapolis began using RCV.
- 93 percent of Minneapolis voters and 90 percent of St. Paul voters in 2017 said that candidates spent little time criticizing each other — and these were in cities with hotly contested mayoral races. In 2019 in St. Louis Park, 71 percent of voters said the same.
- In 2019, when St. Louis Park first used RCV, voter turnout increased by nearly 50% in the November general election, from 4,436 to 6,619 voters citywide over 2015, the last similar election with the Mayor and both at-large council seats on the ballot.
- In 2017, turnout in Minneapolis was 43%, the highest in 20 years and a more than 32% increase over the relatively high turnout in 2013.
- According to election day polling conducted by Edison Research in 2019, 92% of St. Louis Park voters said they found RCV simple to use, including 93 percent of people of color and 90 percent of those aged 55 and older. These results are remarkably consistent with previous RCV election polls in Minneapolis and St. Paul across different levels of income, age and education.
Interview an expert
- Executive Director
- Topics of expertise: RCV implementation and research, Minnesota’s experience with RCV, and voting technology.
- Data & Research Director
- Topics of expertise: Data on RCV in Minnesota, campaign strategies under RCV, voter turnout.
FairVote Minnesota Contacts
- Executive Director
- Deputy Director
- FairVote Minnesota Board Member
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Media Advisory Briefing Majority winner in a Single Higher Turnout General Election and Other Impacts of Ranked Choice Voting on St. Louis Park’s Municipal Elections What: Media briefing on the impact of Ranked Choice Voting on the November 5, 2019 municipal elections...