Letter in the Star Tribune, August 12, 2016


Her exciting primary win would have been even better with RCV

Im elated but not surprised that my friend progressive champion Ilhan Omar won her DFL primary election on Tuesday. Shes exactly the positive, unifying voice that Minnesota and, frankly, the country needs right now.

The fact that a little girl living in a refugee camp, dreaming of making a kinder world for everyone, could grow up to lead a spectacularly diverse, inclusive legislative campaign in Minnesota and win! is proof that our democracy works.

But as Omar knows, it can work better in many ways.

One way: with a voting system ranked-choice voting or RCV that eliminates vote-splitting, instead allowing communities of color to express support for multiple candidates.

And RCV ensures consensus outcomes. Omars 41 percent victory in a three-way race was truly impressive no other candidate could have topped it but Im convinced it doesnt reflect the breadth of her support. Our clunky plurality system deprived her of the majority mandate she and her bridge-building campaign earned.

RCV would have allowed supporters of all three DFL candidates to identify a second choice in the primary. It would have given voters more voice and more power, and it would have given Omar a space to articulate common ground with loyalists of both of her opponents Mohamud Noor and state Rep. Phyllis Kahn.

If she wins in the November general election, as expected, Omar will unite her district around her justice-driven agenda because shes a uniquely gifted and inspiring leader. But shell do it despite of a system that fosters division and negative campaigning. Omars ability to maintain her relentless positivity throughout this race is a testament to how extraordinary she is.

Lets embrace a political reform that cultivates more Ilhan Omars and that allows them in rich, lively multicandidate races to take office with a mandate when theyve earned it.

State Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, Minneapolis

The writer, a DFLer, represents District 63.