News

2017 Election Night RCV Expectations

FAIRVOTE MINNESOTA

ELECTION NIGHT RANKED CHOICE VOTING EXPECTATIONS

 

Major expectations in this election:

  • Turnout, high or low, will be driven primarily by competition and how compelled voters feel to turnout for the candidates on the ballot – not RCV.
  • The more competitive the race, the further voters will rank.
  • Election results will be faster than ever in Minneapolis, with final results for all races reported by the end of the next day, Nov. 8. In St. Paul, where the reallocation will be tabulated manually, final results in the mayoral race will be reported by Saturday.
  • RCV has fostered civil and issue-focused mayoral campaigns among the candidates while Independent Expenditure groups and base supporters on social media fell back on old attack tactics at the risk of losing votes.
  • Voters will find ranking to be simple as they have in previous RCV elections.

  • (Cold weather aside) All indications today are that the election went smoothly and successfully, demonstrating a deep voter understanding of Minneapolis and Saint Paul’s Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) systems. This comes as no surprise: After the 2013 elections in Minneapolis and St. Paul, 85% of voters said that RCV was simple and easy-to-use.
    • RCV provides voters with more choice and more power to have their voice heard in our elections.
  •  The information provided on election night will include the total count of votes in each ranking for all candidates. This means we will know the total number of 1st, 2nd and 3rd choices (up to 6 in St. Paul) each candidate received.
    • The city will declare winners in races where the number of first choices for any candidates exceeds the winning threshold as calculated for that race.
  • In Minneapolis, races in which a winner is not declared on election night will be tabulated on Wednesday, concluding by the end of the day.  In St. Paul, the manual reallocation count in the mayoral race will begin Thursday and conclude by Saturday. The length of the counts will depend on how close the initial count is and how many rounds of counting are required to determine the winner. By the next election cycle, both cities anticipate having fully automated RCV tabulation software for faster results.
  • Follow results in Minneapolis at: http://vote.minneapolismn.gov/
  • Follow results in St. Paul at: rcelections.org; You may also observe the count in St. Paul at Ramsey County Elections at 90 Plato Blvd, St. Paul.
  • In the competitive races, Round One results show the relative strength of each candidate’s base of supporters. It is important to remember, though, that the candidate with the greatest amount of first choice support may or may not be the candidate preferred by the majority of voters. The winning candidate will be the candidate who has successfully reached beyond his or her base and built a majority coalition by winning voters’ second and third choice support.
  • Predictions based on results from Round One counting – particularly in the Minneapolis and St. Paul Mayoral races – are premature, and we caution the media and the public to avoid jumping to any conclusions after only one round of counting. The winner in the mayoral races will be the candidate who most successfully secures second- and third-choice support (or additional choices in St. Paul) and an overall majority of continuing ballots in the final round.
  • We also caution the media and public not to misinterpret the term “spoiled” ballot on the city election results screens: A “spoiled” ballot is simply one that was initially mismarked with an over-vote by a voter. The ballot is then corrected and counted. 
    • In the 2013 Minneapolis mayoral election, the valid ballot rate was 99.94 percent, demonstrating an extremely highly level of voter competence.
  • Winning candidates (in a singles-seat race) will always have a majority of votes continuing in the final round of counting (or 25 percent in the 3-seat at-large Park Board race). However, due to a variety of factors, including a large number of candidates in the mayoral races, the desire of a certain share of voters to rank a single preference and, in Minneapolis, the limitation of only having three rankings, the winning candidate may or may not be a majority of initial ballots cast. Ballots with only one or two rankings may be exhausted or discontinued before the final round of counting. Some ballots with three rankings may also be exhausted if none of these choices are continuing candidates in the final round.
    • FairVote Minnesota will continue to advocate for Minneapolis to allow for up to six rankings as provided for in St. Paul to minimize the number of “exhausted” ballots. This change should be possible with the upgrade in RCV tabulation software by the next election cycle in 2021.
  • History leads us to anticipate few voter errors in marking ballots. As stated above, the valid ballot rate in the large 2013 Minneapolis mayoral election was 99.94 percent. If an error is encountered, such as an over-vote or a skipped ranking, the election officials will count the next highest-ranked candidate still continuing on the ballot to maximize the intention of the voter and ensure all ballots are counted.
  • This year, more than ever, we saw candidates reach out beyond their base to build winning coalitions among voters and with other candidates. We also saw the candidates focus on issues and their ideas for the future of the city rather than attacking their opponents. Unfortunately, Independent Expenditure groups and supporters on social media did engage in negative campaigning and ran the risk of that behavior backfiring and losing support for their candidates. Despite candidates condemning these tactics, voters on social media were swift in communicating their shift in support away from candidates on behalf of whom the attacks were waged to candidates who were the targets of the attacks. We will be evaluating the impact of those attacks on the election results.
  • FairVote Minnesota is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to a better democracy through public education and advocacy. Our focus is on voting systems that lead to greater competitiveness, better representation, and more participation in elections, and [post-results] we congratulate all of the winners on their successful campaigns, and applaud them for reaching out to the broadest base of voters in our communities.
  • See more detail about election expectations at: http://www.fairvotemn.org/news/what-expect-2017-minneapolis-and-st-paul-rcv-elections
  • The following resources are available for election analysis:

Jeanne Massey, Executive Director, FairVote Minnesota: Jeanne.Massey@FairoVoteMN.org, 612-850-6897

Heather Klindworth, Director of Campaigns, FairVote Minnesota; Heather.Klindworth@FairVoteMN.org; (612) 804-9740

Minneapolis Councilmember Elizabeth Glidden: elizabeth.glidden@minneapolismn.gov; (612) 396-2288

St. Paul Councilmember Jane Prince: jane.prince@ci.stpaul.mn.us; (651) 308-4984

St. Paul Councilmember Amy Brendmoen: amy.brendmoen@ci.stpaul.mn.us; (651) 492-8488

 

 

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