IRV, better democracy win big in Minneapolis

November 12, 2006

The proposal to use Instant Runoff Voting for Minneapolis elections won by a 2-to-1 margin on Tuesday. The victory and its size surprised many long-time political observers.

Besides the 65 percent "yes" vote, the breadth of support across the city was equally impressive. "Yes" votes outnumbered "no" votes in every ward. Further, "yes" votes prevailed in nearly every precinct -- 127 out of 131. The proposal came within 116 votes of winning every precinct in the city. See map and table of precinct level results.

Instant Runoff Voting proposals on the ballot in Oakland, Davis (California), and Pierce County (Washington), all won as well with 68 percent, 54 percent and 53 percent, respectively. The vote in Davis was advisory and was for the proportional representation form of ranked ballot voting.

The new voting method in Minneapolis will also use proportional representation for at-large seats on elected boards. It is the first time in 56 years that a U.S. city has adopted proportional representation by Single Transferable Vote, as the voting method is formally known.

The victory flushed out a number of previously unidentified supporters among newspaper columnists and editorial boards. Their statements included a call for Instant Runoff Voting at the state level, where once again elections were decided by less than a majority of the voters.

It is now up to the City Council to write an ordinance implementing the charter change. Central among the implementation tasks will be arranging for a means of processing ranked ballots, not a feature of the precinct optical scanners currently in place. FairVote Minnesota has presented several options for how to accomplish ballot processing and will continue to track the implementation.





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