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Letter by local officials in support of the freedom to use Ranked Choice Voting

The Local Options Approach: Local control by local governments to explore and use Ranked Choice Voting for themselves

We, the undersigned, support removing government barriers and giving all local jurisdictions in Minnesota the option in state law to use Ranked Choice Voting if we decide its right for our communities.

Having the local option is a significant opportunity to improve elections in cities, counties, and school districts throughout the state. Ranked Choice Voting is successfully used in Minneapolis and St. Paul, with more than 85 percent of voters in the states most diverse cities saying that RCV is simple to use.

A local options measure would contain no mandates, but merely provides us with the permission and tools we need to consider and implement RCV if we wish.  We dont know if all of our communities would ultimately adopt RCV, but we should have the freedom to consider it and make this choice for ourselves. For those of us with our own charters and ability to adopt RCV without additional legislative permission, we need the guidelines such a measure would provide to ensure smooth and consistent implementation across Minnesota.  And for those cities not interested in RCV, this has absolutely no impact.

One of the advantages of Ranked Choice Voting is that it consolidates two elections into one. In our local nonpartisan elections, this means we can eliminate primaries that a shrinking number of voters participate in. In cities with odd-year local elections, we can save the cost of primaries altogether. RCV provides more choice for voters in the higher turnout November general election and ensures that the candidates with the broadest support win.  Further, RCV makes voting easier for deployed military members and other citizens abroad by requiring one less election for them to receive and return their ballots on time.

RCV works like a runoff (or like a primary-general election) but is accomplished in a single election. Voters rank their preferences on the ballot: 1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice and so on. In a single-seat election, if no candidate receives a majority of first choices, then the least popular candidate is defeated and his or her ballots are reassigned to the remaining candidates based on those voters second choices. This process is repeated until one candidate receives a majority of continuing ballots.

The Minneapolis and St. Paul elections have shown that voters appreciate the simplicity of RCV, and the civil and positive atmosphere it encourages in our elections. Enabling communities to try a meaningful, commonsense reform that has proved successful not only in Minneapolis and St. Paul, but in numerous other cities throughout the country, simply makes sense. Now is the time to give other interested Minnesota communities the ability to consider and adopt RCV if they choose.

We support this movement and providing local jurisdictions with the local control we deserve. Interest in RCV is growing, and all we ask for is the freedom to explore this method of voting without the bureaucratic burden of seeking legislative approval.  

Please find attached a backgrounder on the RCV local options approach and an overview of the 2013 Minneapolis election. If you have and questions or would like additional information, please contact Jeanne Massey, Executive Director at FairVote Minnesota. We hope we can count on your signature of support.

Sincerely,

Amy Brendmoen, St. Paul City Council
Evan Brown, Red Wing Charter Commission
Don Dicklich, St. Louis County Auditor
Kim Ellison, Minneapolis School Board
Jacob Frey, Minneapolis City Council
Rebecca Gagnon. Minneapolis School Board
Elizabeth Glidden, Minneapolis City Council
Cam Gordon, Minneapolis City Council
Marion Green, Hennepin County Commission
Harvey Heigel, Crystal Charter Commission
Emily Larson, Duluth City Council
Laura Libbey, Crystal City Council
Pete Lindstrom, Falcon Heights Mayor
Richard Manning, Coon Rapids City Council
Anne Mavity, St. Louis Park City Council
Linea Palmisano, Mpls City Council
Bill Palmquist, Afton City Council
Jen Peterson, Cottage Grove City Council
Josh Reimnitz, Mpls School Board
Heidi Ritchie, Brooklyn Park Charter Commission
Russ Stark, St. Paul City Council
Steven Voss, Mayor East Bethel
Dave Williams, Brooklyn Park Charter Commission
Aaron Wittnebel, Lake Park Mayor
Michael, Wojcik, Rochester City Council

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