To the Editor:
St. Louis Park is a smart, forward-thinking community. So, I am not surprised our city council and charter commission are considering the use of ranked-choice voting in a way that saves our community time and money.
I urge the charter commission to send a favorable recommendation on ranked-choice voting to the city council – with no recommendations for a costly and time-consuming ballot measure. Fortunately, the blueprint for implementing ranked-choice voting exists already – thanks to technical upgrades and voter education materials made by Minneapolis and Hennepin County – making it easy for us to adopt it and minimize startup costs.
When the charter commission decided to save money by eliminating costly low turnout primaries (bravo!), they unwittingly created the problem of allowing our city council members to be elected with very little support (through a plurality outcome). Fortunately, ranked-choice voting offers a perfect solution to ensure local elected officials receive broad majority support, and with that, a powerful mandate to be responsive to all St. Louis Park residents.
That’s the kind of democracy I want and St. Louis Park deserves! As someone who has spent years promoting gender, racial and political diversity in our democracy, I believe ranked-choice voting is the most promising electoral reform to close disparity gaps in voting since the Voting Rights Act in 1965.
Ranked-choice voting makes local elections much more engaging and democratic. In the recent Minneapolis and St. Paul elections, we saw 20-year record high turnouts with a majority (75-90 percent) of voters ranking their ballots, a more demographically and politically diverse slate of candidates – and winners – than conceivable under the old system, forums featuring rich conversations about complex and important issues, and the elimination of the anti-democratic specters of spoilers and wasted votes.
Please join me in urging the charter commission to quickly send a favorable recommendation for ranked-choice voting to the city council to approve early next year. Our city council should then approve ranked-choice voting the same way it approved the elimination of the city primary – by unanimous vote and without a referendum.
St. Louis Park