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RCV Compels Candidates to Campaign, Govern Towards Majority

MEMORANDUM

To: Minneapolis Candidates & Interested Parties
From: Jeanne Massey, FairVote Minnesota Executive Director
Re: RCV Compels Candidates to Campaign, Govern Towards Majority

Now that vote tabulation in the Minneapolis mayors race is complete, were hearing some questions about the percentage with which the winner, Mayor-Elect Betsy Hodges, prevailed. Mayor-Elect Hodges received 60.8 percent of votes cast in the final round -- 49 percent of all ballots cast in the race.

This can happen because some voters chose to rank just one or two choices and any ballots cast by those who didnt rank one of the two remaining candidates didnt count in the final round. That was the preference of those voters. It may also be the case where some voters ranked three choices, but not one of the top two remaining candidates. We dont know if theyd have preferred to rank additional candidates if given the option, but we believe that option should be provided. St. Paul provides the option to rank up to six choices, a ballot design we hope Minneapolis adopts for future elections. 

That said, in a race with 35 candidates and 33 rounds of counting, this shows that the vast majority of voters ranked their ballots and had their ballots counted through the final round. Voters overwhelmingly exercised the power of choice!

The important point to remember is that RCV compels candidates to campaign and govern toward a majority. In a typical first-past-the-post election, there is little to no incentive for candidates to appeal to other candidates bases or a broader range of voters. In an RCV election, there are huge incentives to reach out to the entire electorate for second and third choices in addition to first choices, because it is only with those second and third choices that the eventual winner can prevail. This process fosters a significantly more civil and substantive campaign, gives the winner a stronger mandate with which to govern and holds the winner accountable to a much broader constituency.

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