Authored on April 05, 2017

Letter: Implement ranked choice voting in St. Louis Park

To the Editor:

Eliminating the costly, low-turnout municipal primary – which drew just 3 percent of eligible voters in the last election cycle in 2015 – would be a good move for democracy in St. Louis Park. We’re glad the city council and election staff are considering it.

Combining that change with a switch to ranked choice voting would be a great move for democracy. We hope they’ll consider that too.

Just eliminating the primary without implementing ranked choice voting, which is working successfully in Minneapolis, St. Paul and other U.S. cities, runs the risk that we’ll experience multi-candidate races with plurality winners lacking a mandate from a majority of voters. This is how Donald Trump became the nominee of his party.

There’s an alternative – a simple, smart, inclusive and democratic way to achieve consensus results that protects the integrity of our voting system. Ranked choice voting enables voters to evaluate a varied slate of candidates and rank their choices first, second and third when they fill out the ballot. Minneapolis and St. Paul have proven ranked choice voting is easy to use, and polls show voters overwhelmingly prefer it over the current system.

The good news is that the technical upgrades that are required have already been made by Minneapolis and Hennepin County, making it easy for St. Louis Park to adopt ranked choice voting and minimize startup costs. Voter education could be funded with some of the savings from eliminating the primary. Excellent existing ranked choice voting voter education programs could be tweaked to meet the needs of our community.

We don’t have to reinvent the wheel – we just need to embrace it and enjoy its benefits. Ranked choice voting is ready for St. Louis Park, and we believe St. Louis Park is ready for ranked choice voting.

The St. Louis Park City Council will consider the proposal to eliminate the city primary election during a meeting 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 17.

Please join us at City Hall to show your support for eliminating the primary and replacing it with ranked choice voting. It’s a common-sense, cost-effective approach to ensuring our local leaders will be elected with broad popular support.

Deb Brinkman

St. Louis Park

Deb Brinkman is president of the League of Women Voters of St. Louis Park.