St. Louis Park residents had the opportunity to use Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) first hand at last Tuesday’s Rank Your Beer event at Steel Toe Brewing! Nearly 40 community members turned out for the event and enjoyed ranking (and tasting!) the beer. The contestants, or “candidates,” were Provider, Sissel, Dissent and Size 7.
This unique event was hosted by the League of Women Voters-St. Louis Park and FairVote Minnesota to build awareness and educate the community about the local initiative to bring RCV to St. Louis Park.
“The League of Women Voters-St. Louis Park has long supported Ranked Choice Voting because the evidence is clear that RCV improves the quality of campaigns, while giving voters more choice and power when they vote,” said League of Women Voters-SLP President Deb Brinkman.
In wake of the city council’s recent decision to eliminate the municipal primary beginning in 2019, the council now is considering a proposal to use RCV in the November municipal elections to ensure that winning candidates receive a majority of votes. Without RCV, winners in competitive multi-candidate races, like the Ward 1 race this year, could fall far short of a majority of votes.
Under RCV, if no candidate has an outright majority (50% + 1), then the rankings are used to conduct an “instant” runoff. The least popular candidate is eliminated and the ballots for that candidate are reassigned to remaining candidates based on the second choices on those ballots. This process continues until one candidate receives a majority among continuing ballots. RCV simulates the two-round primary-general election, but in a single, cost-effective and higher-turnout election in November.
RCV is used in Minneapolis and St. Paul and studies show that voters find it simple to use and prefer it to traditional voting.
The League of Women Voters-St. Louis Park is a lead sponsor of the initiative, which has also gained the support of the St. Louis Park Human Rights Commission and DFL Senate District 46. Secretary of State Steve Simon, who is also a former St. Louis Park Representative, attended the event and spoke about his efforts to give communities the option to adopt RCV if they wished. Several other elected officials also were there, including Rep. Cheryl Youakim, St. Louis Park Mayor Jake Spano, St. Louis Park Councilmember Anne Mavity. Several candidates running for election this year also participated.
Former SLP Mayor and current Met Council representative Gail Dorfman also was there to share her support for RCV. As a member of the FairVote Minnesota board and active civil servant, she strongly supports elections in which “leaders are accountable to a broader swatch of voters they represent, which is the natural outcome in RCV elections.” She also noted that candidates are “more friendly and focused on sensible discussions when they need to appeal to more voters.”
And the winner of the beer contest was . . . Dissent! But in this highly competitive election, it wasn’t a clear favorite of the majority in the first round. Here are the round by round results. All the ballots were tallied based on first choices. In round 1, Dissent led with 32% of the vote, with Size 7 and Sissel close behind. Provider came in last and therefore was dropped first. Most of Provider’s supporters liked Sissel as a second choice and after reassigning their ballots, Sissel took the lead. In Round 2, Size 7 was now the candidate with the fewest votes and was eliminated next. Most of those ballots had Dissent as a second choice and after reassigning those ballots, Dissent was back in the lead and won with 52% of the vote. With RCV, the will of the majority of taste testers prevailed!
To learn more about the effort to adopt Ranked Choice Voting in St. Louis Park visit http://www.fairvotemn.org/st-louis-park. And if you missed the Rank Your Beer event at Steel Toe, you’ll have another opportunity to learn about RCV in a fun way at FairVote Minnesota’s and Sociable Cider Werks’ second annual Best of the Wurst event on September 17. See details here: www.bestofthewurst.org.