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City staff report threatens Minneapolis IRV proposal

May 22, 2006

A task force to study the Minneapolis Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) charter amendment proposal was appointed by the city council on March 10, 2006. The task force met five times. They considered the legal basis for the proposal and reviewed implementation issues such as voting equipment requirements and education needs of voters and polling place workers. Now, a task force report written by the city elections staff is ready to derail the proposal as it goes before the council this week.

The report is based on faulty assumptions and inaccuracies, including claims of constitutional concerns, despite a letter to the contrary from the Minnesota Attorney General.

The report claims that the city’s voting equipment could not be modified for use with IRV, when in fact the equipment vendor has proposed to do exactly that for another jurisdiction. The report claims that costs of administering city elections will skyrocket based on misunderstood or overstated requirements.

The staff implementation plan would knock voter education off track and delay release of election results by up to three days, both due to a lack of understanding of the needs and requirements of implementing IRV. The report is available on line at http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/council/2006-meetings/20060512/Docs/IRV-Task-Force-Rep-AG-Letter.pdf.

FairVote Minnesota President Tony Solgård responded to the report in a memo to Council member Scott Benson, who is authoring the charter amendment proposal being considered by the council this week. The response memo corrected the record, rebutted inaccuracies, and countered misleading claims on the constitutionality of Instant Runoff Voting, equipment requirements, inflated administration costs, and more. The memo is attached below.

Several council members have expressed concerns due to the misinformation in the staff report. FairVote Minnesota will share the information in the response memo to council members this week.

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