Authored on July 10, 2020

To the Editor:

I’ve been following the discussion about ranked-choice voting in Minnetonka with interest and am grateful for the coverage in this newspaper and from our city communications.

One of the “concerns” I keep hearing about is that ranked-choice voting will be too complicated for folks like me to understand (I’m 76). That is nonsense. People my age are typically well informed and take voting seriously. I should know - I’m also an election judge.

There is nothing about ranked-choice voting that seems complicated or confusing. We are simply asked to rank a few preferences from a field of candidates. I’ve been following the experience in Minneapolis and from everything I’ve read, seniors understood how ranked-choice voting worked better than any other age group, and 90% of them said it was simple to do. It’s true that all voters need a bit of education to make sure we’re aware of the change, but we’re not a group that needs special assistance.

Rather than focusing on whether or not seniors can rank their ballot, I hope the charter commission and city council look at the real problem of very low voter turnout in our city elections. While nearly all Minnetonka voters participate in national elections, only 15% vote in city council November elections, and only 4% vote in local primaries – and they mostly look like me, older and white. This should not be acceptable in any community and especially in ours which prides itself in civic engagement.

The greatest challenge to our voting system is not “protecting our seniors,” it’s making sure our city continues to engage residents, especially newer and younger ones. I watch new families moving into our community and I want them to take what we have built and make it their own. That’s what a legacy is.

Ranked-choice voting makes voting simpler for all voters and easier for more and new voices to be heard in our elections. And more voices means more engagement as we decide, together, about the future of our city. Minnetonka citizens, of all ages, deserve this better way.

Jeanne Lutgen