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RCV Bill Earns Committee Approval, Moves Forward in Legislature

RCV Bill Earns Committee Approval, Moves Forward in Legislature

Feb. 27, 2013 -- Visible support of FairVote Minnesota supporters is making the difference thank you!

Your hard work and ours is paying off in spades! Our Ranked Choice Voting local options bill continues its progress at the Legislature thanks largely to the advocacy of democracy reform champions like you.

Tuesday, the House Elections Committee chaired by the bills chief House author, Rep. Steve Simon approved H.F. 367, which now moves on to the general register.

Overriding RCV opponents who spoke against the bill, the Committee approved the measure on a voice vote; were grateful to Chair Simon and to all committee members for their work.

Thanks also to those of you who called and wrote the committee as well as those who showed up at the State Office Building to stand with us in support of the bill. That visible support was crucial!

Minneapolis City Councilor and longtime reform advocate Elizabeth Glidden said that by eliminating the low-turnout, demographically skewed municipal primary, RCV made for a fairer, more representative city election. Turnout is low and demographics are very different in primaries, Glidden said. Combining the two elections into one high-turnout November election yields results more reflective of the whole electorates intentions.

Other cities wanting to foster broader, more equitable participation in culling and evaluating candidates should have that opportunity, testified Edina Mayor Jim Hovland. Give the statutory cities an even playing field, Hovland said.

The 2009 Minneapolis RCV rollout experience was strikingly positive, thanks to effective education and outreach, with most voters reporting they found it simple and satisfying to use. People liked being able to choose, said MPS Board of Education Director, teacher and FairVote MN volunteer educator Kim Ellison. The fact that they could rank [candidates] encouraged voters to really look at the issues.

Others testifying on the bills behalf included attorney and military veteran Mathew Meyer, who spoke about RCVs ability to better enfranchise overseas service members; Minneapolis residents Mohamud Noor and Terra Cole, both of whom spoke about how RCV benefits communities of color and the need to ensure all voters understand the new method well; David Wheeler, 2009 candidate and vice president of the Minneapolis Board of Estimate and Taxation, and Evan Brown, Charter Commission member in Red Wing, which is considering RCV. 

Currently, only cities with their own charters (i.e., home rule cities) can use RCV. Statutory cities, school boards and counties must gain approval of the legislature to adopt RCV for their local elections; FairVote Minnesota wants to remove that barrier.

Specifically, the bill honors local control; makes local elections less expensive and more participatory by consolidating low-turnout primaries with higher turnout general elections; makes voting easier for military voters; provides model standards for implementing RCV; and contains no mandates and imposes no additional costs.

Tuesdays hearing came on the heels of the bills first successful committee hearing, before the Senate Committee on State and Local Government on Feb. 18. Were grateful to the other chief author, Sen. Ann Rest, for her outstanding leadership in that hearing as well as to committee Chair Sandy Pappas and all committee members voting yes; there was only one no vote.

And again, we simply couldnt have done it without the many other RCV champions who showed up to testify (including many who came again on Tuesday). Theres no doubt about it: Your phone calls, emails and willingness to physically show up at the Capitol truly make a difference. Thanks again, and stay tuned for more updates!

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