For Immediate Release
Top Election Reform on the Ballot in Two Minnesota Cities:
Voters in Bloomington and Minnetonka Will Decide Whether to Use Ranked Choice Voting to Elect Mayor, City Council
Bloomington, MN (September 24, 2020) -- Bloomington and Minnetonka voters have an opportunity to make history this November by adopting Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) and being one of a record seven RCV ballot measures across the country. Voters will also consider RCV in Albany, California, Eureka, California, and Boulder, Colorado for local elections and in Alaska and Massachusetts for state and federal races.
This summer, city councils in Bloomington and Minnetonka voted overwhelmingly to put RCV on the November 2020 ballot. Voters in both cities will decide whether they want to use RCV to elect their mayor and city council members beginning in 2021. The ballot measures will be part of the November 3 general election ballot, and early voting began last week. If the ballot measures pass, Bloomington and Minnetonka will join St. Louis Park, St. Paul and Minneapolis as the five Minnesota cities using RCV for local elections.
RCV is a simple change to the ballot that allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference (first choice, second choice, third choice, and so on). If a candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes, that candidate wins. If not, then the last-place candidate is eliminated, and the voters who chose that candidate have their vote allocated to their second choice. This process continues until one candidate reaches a majority and wins.
Under the current system, Bloomington and Minnetonka hold two-round municipal elections like many cities in Minnesota. They have primary elections in August when only a small percentage of voters participate - a mere 5-10% in Bloomington and 4% in Minnetonka. They hold a second general election with the top two candidates from the primary in November. RCV eliminates the need for these costly, low-turnout municipal primary elections, saves the expense of the primary and allows more candidates to run and voters to participate and make their voices heard in a single, decisive election in November. If adopted, RCV would mean one election in November when voter turnout is higher and more representative of the community.
“When I found out that only 4% of Minnetonka voters participated in the local primary, I was surprised, but I also knew we could do better for our community,” explained RCV Minnetonka Organizer David Haeg. “That is why I, along with other residents, started organizing two years ago to put RCV on the ballot. We knew RCV would allow more Minnetonka voters to have their voices heard and provide more inclusive, representative elections.”
RCV Minnetonka and RCV Bloomington are grassroots organizations formed by residents, volunteers and voters in the community. Residents saw the unfairness of a system that discouraged so many voters from participating and organized to change it.
“We’ve talked to hundreds of voters in the last year who like RCV because it is simpler than the current primary-general election system, gives voters more choice, and can help mitigate negative campaigning, partisanship and polarization that are starting to affect our local elections,” explained RCV Bloomington Organizer Laura Calbone. “It’s time for voters to feel empowered at the polls.”
“We have a responsibility to vote to make our community, state and nation a better place for our children and grandchildren,” added RCV Minnetonka volunteer Barb Westmoreland. “Ranked Choice Voting is the change we need to create a more representative and responsive government.”
Currently, only charter cities like Bloomington and Minnetonka - 15% of cities in Minnesota - are able to adopt RCV, but Bloomington Representative Steve Elkins has sponsored legislation, the local options bill, to give any city, school district, or county the option to adopt RCV if they so choose. Rep. Elkins, along with a growing number of RCV supporters in the state legislature, will work to pass that bill in the next legislative session.
Many see RCV as a key solution to our increasing polarization and political dysfunction, and momentum for RCV is building. It is a reform promoted by business leaders and democracy experts. This summer, the bipartisan Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship, a project of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, recommended RCV as a key reform to strengthen our democracy.
More than twenty cities across the U.S. currently use or are pending implementation of RCV in California, Maryland, Michigan, Oregon, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Maine and Minnesota. In addition, several southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina) use RCV for military and overseas voters. Maine became the first state to use RCV at the state level in 2018 and will be using it for presidential and US Senate elections starting this year. Other major democracies around the world using RCV include Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Australia, and New Zealand.
By Voting Yes for RCV, Bloomington and Minnetonka voters will not only improve their local elections, they will help build momentum for the democracy reform movement in Minnesota and across the country.
Key community and elected leaders from across the political spectrum are actively supporting these ballot measures. Former Republican U.S. Senator Dave Durenberger emphasized the importance of the reform in encouraging voter participation: “Ranked Choice Voting is the only way I know of that will get people back to the polls in a meaningful way and replace plurality-take-all elections with majority-winner elections.”
“It’s time we start investing in and expanding Ranked Choice Voting,” urged U.S. Congressman Dean Phillips. “It’s simple, empowers voters, and rewards candidates who broaden support beyond their base.”
RCV Bloomington Organizer Laura Calbone (firstname.lastname@example.org, 612.481.4626) and RCV Minnetonka Organizer David Haeg (email@example.com, 612.615.9992 are available for interviews via Zoom, by phone or in person (in compliance with Covid-19 guidelines).
RCV Bloomington and RCV Minnetonka are supported by FairVote Minnesota, an organization that works for better democracy through public education and advocating for voting systems that lead to greater competitiveness, better representation and more participation.