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IRV Moves Forward to a Council Council Vote on Friday

May 24, 2006 - updated

The Minneapolis Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) charter amendment proposal passed its first hurdle at city hall this week, with a 3 to 1 vote by the Intergovernmental Relations Committee (IGR) yesterday to move it forward for consideration by the full council this coming Friday, May 26th.

Voting in favor of the proposal were Council Members Glidden, Remington, and Hodges. Council Member Colvin Roy voted against it, Council Member Hofstede didn't vote and Council Member Ostrow was absent.

Yesterday's favorable vote happened with the support of several people.

Council Member Hodges did an excellent job of facilitating the committee meeting and ensuring that there was full discussion of the critical issues.

Council Member Benson introduced the charter amendment language as author of the proposal and clarified the importance of the council acting NOW so that the IRV proposal can start the process of working its way through the Charter Commission and getting on the ballot by August.  The full language of the proposal can be at http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/council/2006-meetings/20060526/Docs/01_CHAPTER_2_Charter_Ord.pdf.

Tony Solgard, President of FairVote
Minnesota/>, provided a clear presentation on the key issues identified in the staff-prepared IRV Task Force report and his memo, which he prepared as a rebuttal to the staff report.

City Clerk, Merry Keefe, spoke on behalf of the staff  IRV Task Force report, but also spoke favorably of the IRV proposal and suggested moving forward by reconciling the differences in opinion reflected in the IRV Task Force report and Tony Solgard's memo. She is preparing a letter to the City Council to highlight the opportunity for cooperation between the city,
Hennepin
County/>/> and the Better Ballot Campaign as the IRV proposal moves forward. 

For more information about the IRV Task Force report and the rebuttal memo by Tony Solgard, see http://www.betterballotcampaign.org/node/340.

Council Members Glidden and Remington presented very strong and thoughtful arguments in support of the charter amendment proposal, emphasizing how IRV is:
* fairer and more democratic,
* increases voter participation and turnout,
* increases political access communities of color,
* saves costs in the long term, and  
* has a proven track record elsewhere in the
United States/> and in other countries.

Key to the favorable vote by the Committee was the addition of a flexible timeline in the charter amendment language that would allow the city to delay the implementation of IRV until 2013, if necessary, so that implementation could coincide with the normal replacement schedule of voting equipment, which it now leases from
Hennepin
County/>/>. In doing so, the City would avoid the need to purchase its own voting equipment, which could incur a significant cost.

Council Member Hofstede expressed concern about low voter participation and argued in support of other ways to increase voter participation rather changing the voting method, for example, voting by computer or phone voting to make voting easier. She expressed concerns about the cost of implementation and how voters will be educated about IRV.

Council Member Colvin Roy argued against IRV based on the issue of implementation costs as laid out in the staff report and asked that these differences be clarifies moving forward.

There were several supporters present at the IGR Committee meeting and prepared to provide testimony if the opportunity had presented itself. They included Todd Ferrara (Charter Commission member) Leif Utne (Ward 1 and Campaign Organizing Committee member), Larry LaVercombe (Ward 13 and Linden Hills Board members), Donna Cassutt (Ward 11 and Associate Chair of the Minnesota DFL), and Jeanne Massey (Ward 8 and Campaign Organizing Committee member).

Thanks to all of the IRV supporters in
Minneapolis/> who helped build the support and momentum for yesterday's vote.

But IRV is not on the ballot yet and we need to keep the momentum strong and ensure IRV wins City Council support on Friday.

We have just received news that seven council members have now signed on to sponsoring the IRV proposal: Council Members Benson, Gordon, Glidden, Remington, Samuels, Hodges and Schiff. This is very good news, but it is still important for your council member to hear from you, especially if you live in Ward 1. Council Member Ostrow has been supportive of IRV, but still has questions about how voters will become educated and know how to use a new voting system. His vote is uncertain.

The Committee of the Whole meets TOMORROW (THURSDAY), at 10:00 am and the City Council meets FRIDAY at 9:30 am. Meetings are held in the Council Chambers at City Hall.  Please attend to show your support for IRV. 

FFI, contact info@betterballotcampaign.org.

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