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Downtown Journal spotlights Mpls delegation to Scotland

City officials head to Scotland to study IRV

By Kari VanDerVeen

http://www.skywaynews.net/articles/2007/04/16/news/news05.txt

A group of local officials will travel to Scotland later this month to get an up-close look at Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) in action.

Minneapolis residents voted last fall to use IRV, a voting method in which voters rank candidates in order of preference rather than choosing one, in municipal elections. Scotland will use this voting method in its local government elections May 3, and several Minneapolis officials will be on hand to observe how the process works.

Members of the delegation visiting Scotland include: Council Member Elizabeth Glidden (8th Ward); Cindy Reichert, elections director for Minneapolis; Michelle DesJardin, Hennepin Countys manager of voter registration and election information; Gary Poser, Minnesota elections director; Jeanne Massey, FairVote Minnesota interim executive director and the lead organizer for the Minneapolis Better Ballot Campaign; and Tyrone Bujold, a retired attorney, Minneapolis Charter Commission member and member of the FairVote Minnesota board.

The group will leave for Scotland on April 28 and return May 6. Massey said the goal of the trip is to observe how the elections are conducted using IRV, both from a voters viewpoint as well as how the elections are administered.

This trip just informs us that much better about what we might need to look at and consider better in Minneapolis, Massey said.

FairVote Minnesota, which Massey is now leading, is an organization that lobbied to get IRV in Minneapolis and is advocating for the method in other parts of the state as well. Many of the officials going on the trip received a scholarship from the FairVoteCenter for Voting and Democracy, the national version of FairVote Minnesota, and the Electoral Reform Society in England. Glidden said her trip will be paid for with a scholarship, something she said she cleared with the citys ethics officer first. Glidden said shes eager to see the practical application of IRV while also getting the opportunity to talk with city, county and state election officials.

Its going to be a fantastic trip, Glidden said.

The group will return just in time to help FairVote Minnesota celebrate its 10th anniversary May 8.

A celebration event featuring guest speaker Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie will be held at 6 p.m. at the University Club at Summit and Ramsey Hill in St. Paul.

Visit www.fairvotemn.org for more information.

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