News

“We Want To Rank Our Ballots,” say Minnesota Voters

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jeanne Massey, executive director, FairVote Minnesota, jeanne.massey@fairvotemn.org, 612-850-6897

“We Want To Rank Our Ballots,” say Minnesota Voters

St. Paul, MN (August 16, 2018)—Minnesota has just endured one of the most contentious DFL primaries in memory. On top of failed endorsements that led to several competitive multi-candidate races, there were late-hour attacks that aimed to shift the anticipated outcomes. Campaigns know that these divisive strategies can work under the current system.

In these scenarios, voters must ask, “Do I vote with my heart or my head, my hope or my fears?” This kind of strategic voting is commonplace under our old-fashioned and outmoded form of “plurality” voting.

Throughout the primary season, we’ve been hearing DFL voters’ frustrations about the need to be “strategic” with their vote. So, we spent the day at the polls on Tuesday asking voters about their experience and whether they would have voted differently under Ranked Choice Voting. Many said they would have, and nearly all the voters expressed a strong desire to rank their vote with so many choices on the ballot.

"Today when I was voting there were five candidates that I could choose between, and there were some that I really wanted to vote for, but I didn't because I thought voting for them would be throwing my vote away,” said Bridget from Duluth. “Instead, I looked for who were the top two and decided between them. If we had Ranked Choice Voting I would be able to actually vote for who I wanted to vote for.”

Michael from Minneapolis said, "There was one race where I voted based on who I thought could win the election. If I could have voted with Ranked Choice Voting that candidate would have been number two.”

Lorrie from Eveleth expressed a common frustration, saying, "In our congressional race we have a lot of people running. And what worries me is that we're going to get one of them who comes through with perhaps 25 percent of the vote. With Ranked Choice Voting we would have someone the majority of the voters liked and voted for.”

Bridget, Michael and Lorrie are not just frustrated with a system that requires strategic acrobatics and produces candidates who aren’t supported by most of the voters, they want change.

They want a system that:

  • lets them vote their heart
  • makes vote splitting and “spoilers” obsolete
  • elects winners chosen by a majority
  • rewards civility and coalition building
  • makes gridlock a vote-losing reelection strategy

Not that we didn’t see Tuesday’s results coming. Given the abundance of candidates, the process led to exactly what FairVote Minnesota predicted: strategic voting and winners with minority vote shares. In the governor’s race, Tim Walz won with 41 percent of the vote; the smallest was 28 percent in HD 62A.

We are, of course, pleased that primary turnout surged this year, but the increase still only represented just slightly more than one fifth of all Minnesota voters. Ensuring a majority consensus with this base of voters puts candidates in the best place to win in November. Ranked Choice Voting is the only way to accomplish this goal.

FairVote Minnesota applauds Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan for their support for RCV and we call on Jeff Johnson and Donna Bergstrom also to support this timely and commonsense reform that Minnesotans want to see now.

The time is now for the next Minnesota Governor and the Legislature to pass statewide Ranked Choice Voting for primary and general elections and to enable any municipality in the state to use Ranked Choice Voting for its local elections if they chose.

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