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Council Votes: Instant Runoff Voting to Appear on Minneapolis Ballot

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kelly O’Brien, 612-227-9102,  Kelly@BetterBallotCampaign.org.

Council Votes: Instant Runoff Voting to Appear on Minneapolis Ballot in November

Minneapolis, MN (August 4, 2006) — Should Minneapolis use Instant Runoff Voting for city elections? By a 12-1 vote, the Minneapolis City Council today gave final approval to put that question to the voters this November.

Instant Runoff Voting is a ranked-choice voting method that simulates several rounds of voting, but accomplishes the task in just one election. The Better Ballot Campaign, supported by a grassroots coalition of political parties, social justice and environmental groups, religious institutions, and others, has been working for over a year to put Instant Runoff Voting on the ballot.

Instant Runoff Voting would eliminate the need for municipal primary elections. Backers of the proposal point out that there has been persistently low turnout in city primaries and say the method will:

• More accurately represent the voters

• Foster more positive, issue-based campaigns

• Increase voter participation and choice of candidates on the ballot

Voters would have the option to rank the candidates in order of preference (1st choice, 2nd choice, and so on). Advocates say this will empower voters to vote sincerely without feeling like they are wasting their vote.

Instant Runoff Voting has been used for nearly a century in Australia and Ireland, and more recently in this country for overseas absentee ballots in Louisiana, Arkansas, and South Carolina. It is also used for municipal elections in San Francisco (CA), Burlington (VT), and Cambridge (MA), where it has been used since 1941. It has been authorized in eight other cities. Besides Minneapolis, similar proposals are on the November ballot in several other localities on the west coast.

The Minneapolis proposal would use Instant Runoff Voting for municipal elections only. These offices include mayor, city council, and boards of estimate and taxation, parks, and libraries. The next municipal election will be held in 2009.

The proposal has been endorsed by a broad spectrum of elected officials and candidates, nonprofit organizations, neighborhoods, religious institutions, and political parties. These include: Minneapolis DFL Party, Green Party of Minnesota, Independence Party of Minnesota, Libertarian Party of Minnesota, Sierra Club (Northstar Chapter and national organization), Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, League of Women Voters (Minneapolis and Minnesota chapters), ResourceCenter of the Americas, TakeAction Minnesota, First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, Minneapolis Urban League, and many more.

Representatives from the Better Ballot Campaign and FairVote Minnesota, a voting systems educational organization, are available to talk about issues surrounding the use of instant runoff voting in Minneapolis. More information and graphics can be found at www.betterballotcampaign.org and www.fairvotemn.org.

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