News

Duluth, Ramsey County pass resolutions; other public bodies hear about advanced voting methods

Duluth calls for IRV-compatible voting equipment

The Duluth City Council

has passed a resolution calling on the State of Minnesota to add to its voting

equipment certification standards the ability to process ranked and cumulative

ballots used in advanced voting methods such as Instant Runoff Voting. The

occasion for the resolution is the Help America Vote Act appropriation pending

at the legislature. Close to $40 million of federal money has been designated

for Minnesota to purchase "assisted voting technology," enabling blind and

disabled persons to vote in secret, new optical scanners, and other election

system improvements.

The resolution was brought to the council by Jane Gilley, a Duluth resident

who co-chaired the League of Women Voters of Minnesota study of alternative

voting methods published last fall and which resulted in the League taking

a position in support of Instant Runoff Voting. The council's action was

taken at the April 25, 2005 council meeting. The resolution was introduced

by Council President Donny Ness. It was approved on a 7 to 2 vote. Duluth

is the third Minnesota city to take such an action. Hopkins and Minneapolis

passed similar resolutions previously. To view the full text of the Duluth

resolution, see this link.

Ramsey County supports right of

local governments to adopt IRV

At its April 12 meeting, the Ramsey County

Board approved a resolution introduced by Commissioner Jan Wiessner to

support allowing local governments to use Instant Runoff Voting in local

elections.

The resolution referenced the advocacy work of FairVote Minnesota and said, "The

County Board views Instant Runoff Voting as a mechanism that can be used

to ensure citizens the right to have their votes counted." Commissioners

voting in favor of the resolution were Toni Carter, Jim McDonough, Rafael

Ortega, Victoria Reinhardt, Janice Rettman, and Jan Wiessner. Tony Bennett

was absent. The full text of the resolution can be viewed at this

link.

Several public bodies hear about Instant Runoff Voting

In a period of just

a few weeks, FairVote Minnesota has addressed no fewer than six public

bodies. Policy Advocate Bruce Kennedy spoke to school district boards

in Anoka-Hennepin,

Edina (with Edina resident Bill Hannon), Rosemount-Eagan-Apple Valley,

and Moundsview. President Tony Solgard presented to the Saint Paul Charter

Commission

on April 18.

On April 22, the Minneapolis City Council held a study session on Instant

Runoff Voting. The session was sponsored by Council members Dan Niziolek

and Robert Lilligren. Council member Lilligren convened and presided at the

session. Solgard was joined by City Elections Director Susanne Griffin and

Minneapolis resident Jeanne Massey. Council members in attendance included

Lilligren, Scott Benson, Dean Zimmerman, Don Samuels, Paul Ostrow, Natalie

Johnson Lee.

At the two-hour session, broadcast on local cable access television and

the city's website, council members heard about the concerns and opportunities

that led to considering the alternative voting method. They heard how Instant

Runoff Voting works, the experience of other jurisdictions that use it, and

they had a chance to choose their collective favorite flavor of ice cream

in a demonstration election. They also heard considerations for implementing

a change to another voting method, including crafting the charter amendment,

acquiring needed technology, election official training, and voter education.

Budgetary considerations include upfront costs for technology, training,

and education and ongoing savings of approximately $200,000 per election

year by eliminating the nonpartisan city primary election.

You can view the PowerPoint Presentation made at the session at this

link.

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