I recently became aware that only about 5% of Minnetonka voters usually vote in the August local primaries, and this 5% determines who the other 95% of us can vote for in November elections. This seems undemocratic and wrong to me. As a voter, I want the opportunity to vote for a wider array of candidates in November.
Primaries appear to help only those candidates whose voter bases are not on vacation in August when the primaries are held, and who have time to go to the polls to vote. August is one of the busiest months of the year for families with kids. They are on vacation or preparing for back to school.
I believe the current primary system is outdated and does not reflect the realities of the busy lives of today’s Minnetonka citizens.
A better approach to voting in local elections is ranked-choice voting, which allows as many candidates as are running to be presented on the November ballot. With RCV, citizens vote their preferences in order (1, 2, 3, and so on) in a ranking of the candidates. It’s easy. The winning candidate must have 50%+1 votes, which is a majority of votes. Today, a candidate can win office with less than 50% of the votes.
With ranked-choice voting, voters have the benefits of:
1. A broader candidate pool from which to choose in November
2. An additional six to eight weeks to investigate the candidates
3. The wisdom of the majority of the people in the selection of the winner.
Ranked-choice voting has been used in Minneapolis and St. Paul for about a decade, and the voters like it. St. Louis Park approved ranked-choice voting last year, for use in the next elections.
Our Minnetonka City Council has set a study session about RCV for 6:30 p.m. Monday Sept. 9, at City Hall, which would be open to the public. I encourage the council and everyone to learn more about it.
Mary Pat Blake