Authored on September 24, 2019

The Red Wing City Council unanimously voted to begin the process of putting ranked choice voting on the 2020 general election ballot.

 

During the Sept. 23 meeting, two constituents raised concerns about putting the issue on the ballot. Their objections included the city pushing through ranked choice too quickly and that not all votes will be counted, among other arguments.

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Council President Dean Hove told the audience that the city has been talking about ranked choice for about six years, specifically at Charter Commission meetings.

Council member Evan Brown noted that ranked choice voting could improve local elections because it will eliminate the need for a primary. He explained that he views ranked choice as a way to allow more people to vote on a seat or ballot item because the majority of people vote in the general election, fewer vote in Red Wing primaries.

"The people in the primary, 25% of the voting population, get to decide for the rest of us who we can elect if we have more than two people in a race. I consider that to be unfair," he said.

Council member Becky Norton went on to explain that all votes are counted, none is put aside, though some explanations of ranked choice makes is appear that way:

"If I vote for one of the candidates that doesn't get in the top three votes, my vote doesn't get thrown away ... if you don't rank all of your choices down, you still voted and your vote is still sitting there ... no votes are not being counted and I just feel that we need to clear up this misconception."

In ranked choice voting, a voter can rank candidates -- from favorite (1), to second favorite (2), etc. When voting for more than two candidates, votes will be tallied. If a candidate received 51% or more of the vote, the [person is declared the winner. If there is not a candidate with a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes will be out of the race. The people who voted for that candidate will then have their second-ranked votes tallied. If there still is not a majority vote, the candidate with the next lowest number of votes will be out and voters' second choices will be tallied. This continues until there is a candidate with a majority.

The League of Women Voters told the council and those people in attendance that the organization favors of shifting to ranked choice voting .

Heidi Jones with the local chapter explained that in a League of Women Voters survey of voters in Minneapolis, 92% of voters said that the ranked choice voting process was easy and 84% said that they would like to see it again. St. Paul also had a large majority of voters say that they liked ranked choice voting and would like to see it again.

Meanwhile, some others municipalities have decided not to use ranked choice voting.

Ultimately, the council decided to put ranked choice voting on the 2020 ballot to allow voters to decide if they want the city to implement it.

Editor's note: This is not an extensive view of the pros and cons of ranked choice voting. During the months leading up to the 2020 election, the Republican Eagle will write about perspectives, statistics and concerns about ranked choice voting.