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For Immediate Release: Bipartisan Local Options Bill Allows for Community Innovation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jeanne Massey, FairVote Minnesota Executive Director
Jeanne.massey@fairvotemn.org; 612-850-6897

Bipartisan Local Options Bill Allows for Community Innovation 

ST. PAUL – March 16, 2017 – Minnesota communities deserve local control and the opportunity to try innovative electoral reform strategies. That’s the premise of a bipartisan bill that would make it easier for efficiency-conscious communities to try Ranked Choice Voting, a system of voting that consolidates the local nonpartisan primary and general election into one cost-effective election in November.

The local options bill (S.F. 2017; H.F. 2322) frees local statutory jurisdictions (including cities, townships, counties, and school districts) to use Ranked Choice Voting if they choose. It also establishes implementation standards for consistent use of RCV across Minnesota and equipment guidelines to ensure that the next generation of voting equipment is RCV-capable. The bill would impose no mandates and have no effect whatsoever on communities who are not interested in pursuing RCV.

Sponsored by Senators Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria) and Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope) and Representatives Tony Albright (R-Prior Lake) and Laurie Halverson (DFL-Eagan), the bipartisan proposal is modest, sensible, and fair. It supports removing barriers that make electoral innovation difficult for municipalities and cities interested in improving their local voting system. The measure also makes it easier for overseas military voters to cast their ballots. 

Albright noted that RCV is a “helpful tool for overseas military voters.” Because the system efficiently rolls two elections into one, “RCV removes barriers for overseas military voters, who would benefit from having one less election for which they need to receive and return ballots in a timely fashion. If local officials want their communities to make it easier for deployed service members to participate in elections, the Legislature should support this,” he said.

Rest called the bill “simply common sense. I’ve sponsored this proposal for several years, and support on both sides of aisle continues to grow. This bill has always been about getting out of the way and letting cities innovate.” 

Both Minneapolis and St. Paul have now used Ranked Choice Voting with great success; both cities are preparing for their third RCV election this November. And more cities in the metro and in Greater Minnesota – including St. Louis Park, Crystal, Brooklyn Park and Rochester – are in various stages of exploring a move to RCV. 

The local options bill also would give jurisdictions interested in RCV a tested blueprint and uniform guidelines for making the switch, and would ensure that future voting equipment purchases have RCV capability. 

Former bill author Steve Simon continues to support the bill in his role as Secretary of State. He described the local options measure as a “Goldilocks option — it’s just right. It’s a compromise that says not that any jurisdiction should have Ranked Choice Voting, but if they want to have it, they shouldn’t have to come on bended knee to ask the legislature to ask special permission.” 

For more information about the local options bill, its supporters and its progress, please visit www.FairVoteMN.org or contact FairVote Minnesota Executive Director Jeanne Massey.

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