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Duluth News Tribune, Local view: Ranked-choice voting has many benefits but is misunderstood

Despite the admirable work and thorough study by the mayors task force in 2010 and 2011, misconceptions about ranked-choice voting persist as we saw in the News Tribunes Our View editorial of June 13, which claimed ranked-choice voting is a confusing and controversial solution in search of a problem.

Quite the contrary, actually, and we sincerely hope to correct the record. Voter education about ranked-choice voting is indeed necessary, as it would be with any reform made to how our municipal elections are conducted. However, we strongly encourage the News Tribune and members of the Duluth City Council to review facts and statistics about ranked-choice voting before making assumptions.

Ranked-choice voting is, in fact, a tried-and-tested system already used by both Minneapolis and St. Paul here in Minnesota and by numerous other cities across the country and world. Most recently, Minneapolis put ranked-choice voting to the test during the 2013 mayoral election with outstanding success. A full 78 percent of voters ranked all three choices on their ballots, and more than 80 percent of voters including 81 percent of older voters and 82 percent of voters of color found ranked-choice voting easy to use, which dispelled the notion that ranked-choice voting is somehow confusing. Voters have proven over and over they fully understand ranked-choice voting. More importantly, more than two-thirds of voters in Minneapolis liked ranked-choice voting and want to continue using it for municipal elections. The numbers truly speak for themselves.

This can be accurately attributed to several factors, including that ranked-choice voting combines two elections into one, eliminating costly and extremely unrepresentative primary elections, in which turnout continues to trend downward. Unfortunately, Duluth is no exception to that trend, even with our extremely high level of political participation and civic engagement.

Ranked-choice voting also encourages more civil, positive campaigns while discouraging the negative campaigning and mudslinging that all too often plague our democratic process.

By opening up our political process, by welcoming new voices into the conversation, and by giving voters more choice and power, ranked-choice voting has proven it is a reform worthy of discussion and implementation. As citizen supporters of this work and of ranked-choice voting in general, we were disappointed in the Duluth City Councils decision to reject a resolution for ranked-choice voting and in the News Tribunes mischaracterization of the voting method.

After years of study and citywide discussion, shouldnt all of Duluth get the chance to vote on ranked-choice voting?

Bob Wahman, Henry Helgen and Steve Wick are all of Duluth and are all longtime supporters of ranked-choice voting who testified in support of the voting method at the June 9 Duluth City Council meeting. Wahman is a member of the Duluth Better Ballot Committee.

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