The question about Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is not a settled public policy matter. Despite the DFL now holding the governorship and both branches of the legislature, this issue does not have universal acceptance, especially with Republicans and including inside of the DFL Senate Caucus. Senate President Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-59, Minneapolis) is an ardent opponent, and other DFL members have not fully voiced their reservations. The support for Ranked Choice Voting is not as prolific as supporters believe. Some members of the legislature do not support this fashion of elections, especially when the system was set to be applied to constitutional and legislative elections.
Frankly, we have been surprised when DFLers support RCV because it serves to undermine the DFL endorsement process. Since its inception, no candidate for mayor has secured the DFL endorsement in Minneapolis or St Paul, unless they are an incumbent.
Last Thursday, the Senate Elections Committee appeared to be on a glide path to pass SF1636, which included full implementation of RCV, but after the University of Minnesota Ph.D. Political Science candidate, Penny Thomas and the esteemed Humphrey School of Public Affairs Professor Larry Jacobs published a study challenging the precepts offered by RCV supporters, and when fully scrutinized, the claims made were found to be seriously lacking. We have shared these sentiments and additional reasons for not supporting RCV.
In the study, entitled Where’s the evidence supporting Ranked Choice Voting Claims? The following rationales were tested.
#1 RCV claim: Reduce today’s polarization of the political parties.
Findings: There is little research to support the proposition that RCV decreased polarization.
#2. RCV claim: Increase the diversity of elected government officials.
Findings: There is little support for this claim.
#3. RCV claim: Increased voter turnout and engagement of voters of color.
Findings: There is little research to support that RCV increases voter engagement and turnout by voters of color and some evidence that it chases them away.
#4. RCV claim: Decreased negative campaigning.
Findings: While some studies report that RCV reduced negative campaigning, most research found little to no impact or even increased negativity.
After this study was published Senate Elections Committee Republican Lead Mark Koran (R-28, North Branch) prepared amendments to remove RCV from the bill, but as we have learned a task force is what is expected. This too is problematic, because of the numerous issues to consider and the likelihood only supporters of the system will be allowed to participate.
We wonder, why continue the push for RCV? Especially, when the science does not support the claims. If election integrity is an issue then this system is rife with false claims and failure to produce the desired effect from the procedural change. Is science denial now something happening on the other side of the aisle?
In fact, we believe there should be a move for a statewide referendum where the issue could be laid to rest. If the two questions were to be put before the voters, granted, we know FairVoteMN will spend exorbitant amounts of money just as they have this legislative session with the hiring of 10 different lobbyists to push their agenda. But if the following questions were put before the electorate this issue will once and forever be resolved.
- Do you support the use of a single transferrable vote, ranked in order of your preference to be the system of voting in the state of Minnesota, where that vote is applied to your candidate of choice until their name is removed from the ballot, instead of the traditional voting system?
- Do you oppose the use of a single transferrable vote, ranked in order of your preference to be the system of voting in the state of Minnesota, where that vote is applied to your candidate of choice until their name is removed from the ballot, in favor of a Primary and General Election system?
Supporters are quick to voice the word “Preemption” if the state seeks to countermand or supersede local authority, and regarding elections, the Minnesota State Constitution remains silent. One significant problem exists a high level of inconsistencies in the application of the process, which has already been tested and has shown multiple results can ensue because it is completely dependent on how the votes are reallocated and then counted. The State Supreme Court allowed this voting method to commence in a Prima Facie case. MINNESOTA VOTERS ALLIANCE v. FairVote Minnesota, Inc., intervenor-defendant, Respondent. (2009), and we believe the court should take up the case again, now that years of application have transpired.
The original case claims made were both from the city of Minneapolis and FairVoteMN .
Respondents identify several interests that they contend IRV serves and that are adequate to justify any burden imposed on the right to vote. The City asserts that IRV serves the following interests:
(1) Because the citizens of Minneapolis adopted IRV by referendum, IRV serves the purpose of respecting the democratic process;
(2) Because IRV requires only one election, rather than separate primary and general elections, IRV reduces the inconvenience and costs to voters, candidates, and taxpayers;
(3) IRV will increase voter turnout; and
(4) IRV encourages less divisive campaigns as candidates seek support for second- and subsequent-choice votes.
Respondent FairVote argues that IRV serves the following interests in addition to those identified by the City:
(1) IRV promotes the election of candidates with majority mandates, eliminating plurality winners in one-seat races;
(2) IRV eliminates the “spoiler” effect of third-party candidacies; and
(3) IRV helps insure more diverse representation by promoting minority representation in multiple-seat races.
As one can see from the following study, claim 3 and 4 by Minneapolis, and claim 2 and 3 by FairVoteMN are refuted. Other issues also would warrant consideration, as we have repeatedly stated, there are two 14th Amendment issues, whether this system violates One-Person, One Vote as established in Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964) and where it violates the Equal Protection Clause and each vote being treated the same. We argue they are not because the activity of transferring the vote to multiple candidates once a candidate is stricken from the ballot means, someone voted multiple times and a person who voted for a candidate remaining on the ballot only voted a single time. Additionally, the issue of structural disenfranchisement, when a voter selects a single candidate, or when their final vote is cast for a candidate struck from the ballot, results in their vote being identified as exhausted or unassigned.
The constitutionality questions must be laid to rest and doubt this will happen with a room stocked full of dogmatic zealous advocates.
Additionally, the questions of cost have never been determined, because without state approval all subsequent ballots require hand counting.
History: Elections and City Council Actions Establishing RCV
2006 Minneapolis – A PROPOSAL TO USE INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING IN MINNEAPOLIS ELECTIONS
Should the City of Minneapolis adopt Single Transferable Vote, sometimes known as Ranked Choice Voting or Instant Runoff Voting, as the method for electing the Mayor, City Council, and members of the Park and Recreation Board, Library Board, and Board of Estimate and Taxation without a separate primary election and with ballot format and rules for counting votes adopted by ordinance?
|Yes||78,741 or 64.95%|
|No||42,493 or 35.05%|
2009 St Paul – INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING CHARTER AMENDMENT
Shall Chapter 7 of the City Charter be amended to require that the method for electing the Mayor and City Council members be by Single Transferable Voting, sometimes known as Ranked Choice Voting or Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), which is a method without a separate primary election by which voters rank candidates for an office in order of preference on a single ballot: first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and so on; and votes are then counted in rounds until one candidate emerges with a majority of votes cast; and with ballot format and rules for counting votes adopted by ordinance?
|Yes||17,083 or 52.45%|
|No||15,486 or 47.55%|
FYI – The advocates, St Paul Better Ballots Campaign were fined $5,000.00 for illegal campaigning, but the election result remained.
2015 DULUTH CHARTER AMENDMENT – RANKED CHOICE VOTING
Shall the Duluth City Charter be amended to adopt Ranked Choice Voting, also known as Single Transferable Vote, as the method for electing the mayor and the city councilors without a separate primary election and with ballot format and rules for counting votes to be adopted by ordinance? A “Yes” vote means the Duluth City Charter will be amended to adopt Ranked Choice Voting as the method for electing the mayor and city councilors with the ballot format and rules for counting votes to be adopted by ordinance. A “No” vote means the Duluth City Charter will not be amended to adopt Ranked Choice Voting as the method for electing the mayor and city councilors.
|Yes||5,271 or 25.30%|
|No||15,564 or 74.70%|
2018 St Louis Park – Passed Ranked Choice Voting by a Unanimous Vote by the city council without a public referendum.
ELECTING MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL BY RANKED CHOICE VOTING
Should the Bloomington City Charter be amended to elect the Mayor and City Council members by the Ranked Choice Voting method?
|Yes||25,339 or 51.19%|
|No||24,158 or 48.81%|
PROPOSED CHARTER AMENDMENT: ELECTING MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL BY RANKED CHOICE VOTING
Shall the Minnetonka City Charter be amended to adopt Ranked Choice Voting as the method for electing the Mayor and City Council members, without a separate primary election and with ballot format and rules for counting votes to be adopted by ordinance?
|Yes||18,475 or 54.71%|
|No||15,293 or 45.29%|