Authored on October 09, 2002

A new study of state election law will provide local activists with the legal basis they need to work for Instant Runoff Voting or Single Transferable Vote in their cities. It was written by FairVote Minnesota board chair Tony Solgard and attorney Paul Landskroener in response to legal hurdles placed in front of election reform activists by city charter commissions or their attorneys.

In Minneapolis, the charter commission's attorney brought a 1915 Minnesota Supreme Court decision to the commission's attention. As the commission read the decision, it appeared to find preferential voting systems to be unconstitutional. This reading of the decision stymied reformers' efforts to bring their Single Transferable Vote proposal to the ballot.

A statutory barrier to Instant Runoff Voting was erected in Roseville. The commission's attorney said it appeared to him that state law prohibited cities from adopting a ranked ballot or any ballot that did not adhere to generic statutory guidelines to "vote for one." Reform efforts were blocked once again.

Attorney Paul Landskroener analyzed the constitutional and statutory questions. The highlights of the investigation included the discovery that the Supreme Court decision not only did not apply to Instant Runoff Voting or Single Transferable Vote, but that both statutes and the court's decision are quite favorable for the right of home rule cities to adopt an alternative constitutional voting system.

The findings are reported in an article that appears in the October issue ofBench & Bar of Minnesota, the Minnesota State Bar Association's official publication.