RANKED VOTING’S VALUE
October 22, 2107
With half-a-dozen serious candidates running for St. Paul mayor, it is unlikely that any one of them will receive a majority of the votes, at least not on the first counting.
For that reason, this election likely will showcase the value of ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to rank their choices in order of preference. The candidate who ends up in last place is eliminated and the second choice on each of his or her ballots receives that vote. The process repeats until a candidate receives a majority of the votes still in play.
Under this system, in which a majority and not just a plurality of votes is needed to win, candidates should feel the pull not only of the ballots that they are sure they can count on, but also ballots on which they are second- or third-choice, since those could be decisive. This situation should encourage candidates to broaden their outreach efforts beyond their base. And that means that St. Paul’s new mayor might find him- or herself accountable to a greater diversity of constituents than would have been the case otherwise. And if that happens, ranked choice voting will have proven its value.
Kenneth Jopp, St. Paul