News

Loss and Triumph for RCV in Minnesota

Dear friends, 

Its been an intense week for democracy reformers in Minnesota . . . were feeling some disappointment, and a whole lot of gratitude.

Were grateful for another tremendous RCV election in St. Paul, with strong voter participation and understanding, and for the phenomenal voter outreach that laid the groundwork for it. And grateful for the years of hard work and amazing citizen engagement in Duluth that culminated in Tuesday's ballot question. We didn't see the outcome we hoped for there; as this terrific Star Tribune editorial makes clear, opponents did everything they could to scare and mislead voters about Ranked Choice Voting. But were gratified by the rich conversation that took place, and by the inspiring efforts of everyone who worked with the Duluth Better Ballot Campaign. Their efforts have continued to build the movement for a more inclusive and representative democracy. 

Not least, were grateful for the support you give as we work to improve democracy across Minnesota. Every donation you make, every event you attend, every doorknock or phonebank you participate in, every email you send, every tweet and Facebook post you share . . . it all helps to strengthen this grassroots movement.

Were thankful for the rich, community-wide conversation led by our friends at the Duluth Better Ballot Campaign. The leadership of DBBC manager Katie Humphrey and the tireless work of her campaign team have been positively inspiring and helped to cultivate a new generation of leaders in the Zenith City.

It was gratifying to see such great citizen interaction, which is what this campaign was intended to encourage, DBBC Chair Robert Wahman said in a statement Tuesday. Perhaps as it becomes more common around the country, Duluthians will take another look at Ranked Choice Voting in the future. But the people have spoken, and thats what democracy is all about. Were thankful for the amazing efforts of our friends at the DBBC, and for the strong and eloquent support of leaders like Rep. Erik Simonson and Sen. Roger Reinert, City Councilor Linda Krug, MPIRG, TakeAction Minnesota, Minnesota Young DFL, and so many others.

Meanwhile, St. Paulites just took part in their third successful Ranked Choice Voting election, showing yet again that voters there find ranking their ballots simple and satisfying. An unprecedented direct voter outreach effort in a city thats already shown its comfort with and affinity for ranking the ballot in multicandidate races helped make Tuesdays city council election in St. Paul an overwhelming success for Ranked Choice Voting.

We had over 6,000 conversations with voters on RCV, we provided tools for candidates about effective campaigning under RCV, and we worked with MN Voices to help boost participation in historically lower-turnout areas, said St. Paul campaign manager Erik Anderson. And it worked. St. Paul has fully embraced Ranked Choice Voting, and were seeing more civil, substantive, broadly engaging political contests as a result.

Congratulations to all the candidates who put forward their vision for a better St. Paul. In all but one race Ward 2 winners emerged with a majority of votes. In Ward 2, no candidate reached the winning threshold, and Ramsey County Elections will begin the reallocation process to determine the winner on Monday, Nov. 9. This is the same procedure and schedule used in 2011 and 2013 for races that required additional rounds of counting. In future elections, we expect the countys newly purchased machines will provide faster tabulation and results.

Theres good news elsewhere, too. RCV continues to gain steam across the U.S., with more cities and the state of Maine moving toward adopting it. The spirit of democracy reform is very much alive, both in Minnesota and beyond.

Structural change is the hardest kind of change to create: folks who are invested in the status quo fight hard to defend it. But the progress weve made so far is astounding. So while theres still plenty of work to do, we have much to celebrate as well. We share the Star Tribune editorial boards belief that RCV has the potential to fix much of what ails elections.

Democracy is a work in progress and were so glad to have you with us in this work.

The FairVote Minnesota team

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