Hopkins forms Alternative Voting Methods Task Force
One of 22 American cities to use Single Transferable Vote in the mid-1900s, Hopkins took steps in last August to revisit alternative voting methods for the new century. On August 17, the city council approved the creation of a task force to investigate and report back on issues surrounding adoption of Instant Runoff Voting or another method.
Fran Hesch, Hopkins resident and charter commission vice chair, proposed the task force and received the support of the charter commission before bringing it to the council. Other participants are Dorothy Boen, League of Women Voters and Hopkins Charter Commission member; Sharon Cizek, Hopkins Election Judge; Michael Frieberg, Golden Valley Councilmember; Robin Garwood, Green Party Representative; Jim Genellie, Acting City Manager; Rob Healey, Hopkins Citizen; Steve Lewis, Hopkins Election Judge; Terry Obermaier, Hopkins City Clerk; Laura Ronbeck, Minnetonka Elections Official; Yvonne Selcer, Hopkins School District #270 School Board Member; Ann Higgins, League of Minnesota Cities; Steve Simon, Representative Elect, District 44A; and Mary O'Connor, Brooklyn Center Councilmember. FairVote Minnesota staff will serve as a resource to the task force.
According to Hesch, Some of the items to be discussed over the next few months include:
- Voting Criteria and how different systems serve them
- Voting Systems that could accomplish our goal of not only electing single
seat, but multiple candidates to multiple seats
- Legislation that would be needed in order to allow Hopkins School District
to conduct alternative voting in order to eliminate the state-mandated primary
in certain situations (other Cities are also part of the Hopkins School District,
hence representation from Minnetonka and Golden Valley)
Reports from other Cities (Cambridge/San Francisco) on issues such as ballots,
voter education, election outcomes, etc.
- What options are available to the City of Hopkins based on all of the findings?
- What options would the City of Hopkins wish to pursue based on those available?
The task force hopes to have something substantial to report to the Hopkins
Charter Commission at their annual meeting in April 2005. See the news
article from the Sun
Minneapolis calls for new voting equipment to support ranked and cumulative ballots
Keeping options open was the theme at the October 22, 2004 Minneapolis City Council meeting, when the body approved (10-3) a resolution calling on the state of Minnesota to assure that all new voting equipment has the capacity to process ranked and cumulative ballots. Council members Paul Zerby and Scott Benson sponsored the resolution after an expression of interest from Minneapolis resident Jeanne Massey.
The action was prompted by a $40+ million appropriation to Minnesota from the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA), largely to buy new voting equipment. FairVote Minnesota has been calling attention to this historic opportunity for several years. There is some urgency to the state taking this action now before the appropriation is completed. If the appropriation is made and new equipment purchased without the capacity to support Instant Runoff Voting and other alternative methods, it could preclude consideration of those methods by a city for many years simply because of the barrier presented by outdated technology.
During the state plan process required by HAVA, public comments overwhelmingly supported this action. However, Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer refused to include it in her proposals for how to improve Minnesota elections. It is up to the legislature to make the needed changes before the HAVA appropriation is finalized.
View the Minneapolis resolution here.
Minneapolis is the second city to call on the state to purchase voting equipment that is compatible with alternative voting methods. The first two was Hopkins. Roseville also passed a resolution calling on the state to allow all cities to adopt an alternative voting method.