To the Editor:
The time has come for Minnesota to embrace ranked-choice voting.
RCV holds the promise of addressing the vitriol and other problems that are plaguing our democracy in Minnesota and our nation. Based on the recent experience of RCV in the Twin Cities and the state of Maine, these are the benefits I see RCV brings to our elections:
1. Campaigns are more competitive and turnout is higher under RCV. In the 2017 elections in Minneapolis and St. Paul, nearly all the races had several candidates, which engaged more voters throughout the election. Turnout was at a nearly 20 year high.
2. When using RCV, the winner of an election is supported by at least 50 percent of the voters. This is crucial in a democracy. We regularly have governors, senators, legislators who are only supported by a minority of the voters. RCV ensures that every office holder will be supported by at least half the voters.
3. Campaigns tend to keep to the issues and stay civil because candidates know they need second- or third-choice votes to win.
4. RCV levels the playing field for third-party and less well-financed candidates. Currently a vote for a candidate viewed as unlikely to win is a “wasted vote.” However, with RCV, you can vote for your favorite candidate knowing your second choice will count if that candidate is defeated. If enough others feel as you do, and vote for that candidate as a first choice or second choice, that candidate could win.
5. RCV lessens the influence of outside money in campaigns. Outside groups raise money on behalf of their candidates to attack their opponents. That strategy backfires under RCV.
Minnesota has two classes of cities — charter cities and statutory cities. Under current law, only charter cities can adopt RCV without permission from the Legislature. Statutory cities, like Eden Prairie, unfortunately cannot.
I ask everyone to contact the candidates running to serve us as governor and state legislator and ask them to pass a law giving all Minnesota cities the ability make their own decision about using ranked-choice voting. Then ask them to take the next step and enact RCV for all state elections in Minnesota.
Norbert Gernes, Eden Prairie