introduced to expand cities' power to use alternative voting methods
Bill would require new
voting equipment to support alternative ballot types
Legislation has been introduced to authorize any Minnesota city to adopt
an alternative voting method by ordinance. In the House of Representatives,
Government Operations Committee chairman Rep. Jim Rhodes (R-Saint Louis
Park) is the chief author. The bill, HF
1719, would also require all new electronic voting equipment to have
the flexibility to process ranked ballots and cumulative ballots, ballot
types needed to support alternative voting methods such as Instant Runoff
The voting equipment provision
is critical at this time because the federal 2002 Help America Vote
Act will send millions of dollars to Minnesota in the next year. Much
of those funds are earmarked for new voting equipment. Public comments
on the plan for how to spend the HAVA funds overwhelmingly called for
new voting equipment to support alternative voting methods. However,
Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, who controlled the writing of the
plan, rejected the public's comments. Legislators have now taken up
the issue themselves in the absence of a recommendation from Kiffmeyer.
More encouraging is support
coming from the Roseville City Council, which unanimously passed a resolution calling
on the Minnesota Legislature to pass the proposal so it could consider
adopting Instant Runoff Voting for a special election and avoid holding
a primary election. Cities with home rule charters currently have the
power to adopt alternative voting methods through their charters. However,
Roseville does not have a home rule charter and is thus limited to
voting methods prescribed by state law. HF 1719 would effectively authorize
Roseville to adopt Instant Runoff Voting if it chose to do so. Sen.
John Marty (D-Roseville) has authored the legislation in the Senate,
where its number is SF 1613.
FairVote Minnesota has been
providing technical assistance to the state legislators and the Roseville
City Council. Of course, we will continue to keep you posted.