Back in 2018, I looked at the historical results of Minnetonka City Council elections, and I was disappointed: extremely low turnout (4%) in primary elections, lack of competition and choice for voters, and winners of special elections with far less than 50% of voter support. Surprising for an exceptional city like Minnetonka.
I knew about ranked-choice voting and its potential to solve these problems, and met others who felt the same. We started to organize. Newly elected city council members saw the upside of ranked-choice voting with fresh eyes. We watched hundreds of Minnetonka residents have their “AHA!” moment when they realized how ranked-choice voting worked and could make things better: A single City Council election day with more voters, more candidates and a consensus winner, and a chance to send a message to the rest of our state that there was a better way to vote.
Nearly everyone agrees that 4% turnout is unacceptable in any election, and that our overall elections system is in need of reform. But there were a few outspoken critics. Most of them didn’t understand ranked-choice voting, some were unable to have an open mind about change, and others understood and personally benefited from how the status quo functioned – even to the detriment of our broader community. Still, it seemed that supporters far outnumbered the detractors, and an official city survey showed residents favored ranked-choice voting by a 3-to-1 margin.
Ranked-choice voting was endorsed by our Governor, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, State Senator, State Representative and five of our city council members. People you should trust, who understand the issue. These endorsements and news of ranked-choice voting from other states and cities helped people realize that this was a smart idea.
After two years of grassroots organizing, our City Council voted unanimously to let voters decide this issue on the November ballot. Soon we’ll find out if Minnetonka voters will take a small step forward, and vote yes, to make things better in our city. If you have questions and an open mind, visit RCVminnetonka.org.