Elections in Bloomington remind me of someone throwing a lavish party with only a few friends showing up. Did you know that primary turnout for our municipal elections averages a paltry 6 percent here? General election turnout is much higher, but still only about a quarter of our voters.
Here are the voter participation numbers from our last three municipal elections:
As the state’s fifth-largest city, it’s disappointing that our election engagement is so low. We need to commit to dramatically improving our voter participation and representation rates. Switching to a system that allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference would go a long way toward this goal.
Often referred to as ranked-choice voting or RCV, this system eliminates high-cost, low-turnout and unrepresentative primaries. Instead, RCV elections bring together the most voters with the most candidates in a single decisive election in November when turnout is highest and most diverse.
Voters in Minneapolis and St. Paul have been using RCV with great success. Their recent elections last November drew more voters than ever before because the elections provided more choice – and more diverse choice – to voters, and were more competitive. Not only would RCV eliminate the no-show primaries, but it also promises to increase participation rates and foster greater diversity of candidates in November.
Residents of St. Louis Park just adopted RCV in their city, too. It is a hope that Bloomington will be the next Minnesota city to improve our elections, increase diversity and participation with this smart voting system.
To learn more about RCV go to fairvotemn.org/faq.