October 10, 2013 (Minneapolis) -- Thanks in part to the fact that newly procured voting equipment across the metro area is RCV-capable, an already smooth process is set to become even more seamless. FairVote Minnesota is grateful for city and county election officials ongoing effort to improve the voting experience, and were pleased to work with them on voter outreach and education.
Continued progress is in order, however. We regret that in this years Minneapolis election, administrative constraints (not related to the concept of RCV) will prevent voters from being able to rank more than 3 candidates in any given race.
Other jurisdictions using RCV across the U.S.including St. Paulallow voters to rank more than 3 candidates, and FairVote Minnesota continues to advocate for a ballot design that allows up to 6 rankings. (Studies of other cities using RCV show that given the choice, in a race with numerous candidates, voters opt to use more than 3 rankingsbut few opt to use more than 6.)
Data from the Bay Area and Cambridge, Massachusetts, which use Ranked Choice Voting, suggest that in a crowded race, the number of exhausted ballotsballots on which every candidate a voter ranked failed to make it to the final round of countingis significantly higher when voters only have the option of ranking 3 candidates rather than having 6 rankings to use. Currently, 35 candidates are vying for the open mayors seat in Minneapolis (FairVote Minnesota also recommends higher thresholds for candidates filing for office; read more).
One of RCVs many benefits is that it allows voters to continue to have a say after their top favorites are eliminated, thus ensuring greater participation in the final outcome. While allowing up to 3 rankings is far superior than allowing voters to vote for just a single candidate under the old systemin fact, a California federal court has ruled as muchto maximize its potential, voters should be able to rank as many candidates as they are likely to use (again, the data show that voters tend not to rank beyond 6 candidates).
We look forward to working with the city of Minneapolis toward its goal of implementing a ballot design that allows for 6 rankings. In the meantime, we strongly advise voters to take full advantage of the option to rank 3 candidates. Ranking 3 candidates will maximize the power of your ballot and the chances your vote will count in the final round.