News

Bill Would Expland Cities' Power

Legislation

introduced to expand cities' power to use alternative voting methods

Bill would require new

voting equipment to support alternative ballot types

Legislation has been introduced to authorize any Minnesota city to adopt

an alternative voting method by ordinance. In the House of Representatives,

Government Operations Committee chairman Rep. Jim Rhodes (R-Saint Louis

Park) is the chief author. The bill, HF

1719, would also require all new electronic voting equipment to have

the flexibility to process ranked ballots and cumulative ballots, ballot

types needed to support alternative voting methods such as Instant Runoff

Voting.

The voting equipment provision

is critical at this time because the federal 2002 Help America Vote

Act will send millions of dollars to Minnesota in the next year. Much

of those funds are earmarked for new voting equipment. Public comments

on the plan for how to spend the HAVA funds overwhelmingly called for

new voting equipment to support alternative voting methods. However,

Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, who controlled the writing of the

plan, rejected the public's comments. Legislators have now taken up

the issue themselves in the absence of a recommendation from Kiffmeyer.

More encouraging is support

coming from the Roseville City Council, which unanimously passed a resolution calling

on the Minnesota Legislature to pass the proposal so it could consider

adopting Instant Runoff Voting for a special election and avoid holding

a primary election. Cities with home rule charters currently have the

power to adopt alternative voting methods through their charters. However,

Roseville does not have a home rule charter and is thus limited to

voting methods prescribed by state law. HF 1719 would effectively authorize

Roseville to adopt Instant Runoff Voting if it chose to do so. Sen.

John Marty (D-Roseville) has authored the legislation in the Senate,

where its number is SF 1613.

FairVote Minnesota has been

providing technical assistance to the state legislators and the Roseville

City Council. Of course, we will continue to keep you posted.

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