approves task force to look at alternative voting systems
years the city of Hopkins has had some elections where the winning
candidate did not receive the majority of the vote. But the city is
investigating options that would ensure that won't
continue to happen.
At its Aug. 17 meeting, the city council approved the creation of a
task force to look into alternative voting methods.
When more than two candidates run for a position it is common for
the winning person to take the seat without winning the majority,
which has happened in recent Hopkins mayoral and City Council
The task force is going to look at the possibility of having an
Instant Runoff Voting system, where voters are allowed to rank
candidates, rather than vote for only one in each category.
"With this system you're always
assured the winning candidate will have the majority of the vote,"
said Jim Genellie, acting city manager.
The way the Instant Runoff Voting system works is: each voter would
rank their top three (or more) candidates on the ballot. If the
candidate who received the highest number of No. 1 votes does not
have more than 50 percent of those votes, then the No. 2 votes are
counted, and so on.
"It sounds cumbersome, but if you can do it with a
computer it's very simple," Genellie
San Francisco is trying this process in its mayoral election this
year. Other cities have tried or will try similar processes, but no
city in Minnesota is using the system.
Genellie said nothing the task force decides would affect this year's
election and probably not even next year's. But if
Hopkins does end up using this process in the future, he hopes it
will catch on in other cities and even on the state level, he said.
He said the ranking process has benefits besides assuring a
candidate with a majority of votes wins.
"People might be willing to vote for third-party
candidates," he said. "It would
no longer be a case of wasting your vote."
Another benefit of the ranking process is that it would curb a lot
of negative campaigning, Genellie said.
"You're also trying to appeal to the
supporters of other candidates," he said. "If
you're not No. 1, you want to be No. 2."
Fran Hesch, vice chairperson of the Hopkins Charter Commission, said
less negative campaigning would increase voter turnout.
"What I like about Instant Runoff Voting is that
it brings people to discuss the issues," she said.
For the runoff voting process to be approved for local elections the
city's Charter Commission would have to recommend it
and the City Council would have to pass it unanimously, Genellie
However, the council doesn't have the power to change
the school board voting system because the state controls those
elections. To change the school board elections the council would
have to request permission from the state.
Genellie said he doesn't necessarily support or defend
changing Hopkins to a runoff system, but it should definitely be
looked into. What the task force will do is review the history and
success of alternative voting systems and report its findings to the
He said he was unsure if the process would be approved in the
future, but it had a chance.
"This council has certainly advocated to get more
people involved in the government," Genellie said.
"This system would actually do that."
Hesch, who has volunteered to serve on the task force, said she
hopes the group will have someone who is against runoff voting.
"We want to make sure everyone is represented so
no one thinks it's biased," she said.
Instant run-off voting
Instant run-off voting is a ranking based voting system. With it,
voters would rank their top three (or more) candidates and if a
candidate did not receive more than 50 percent of No. 1 votes, then
No. 2 votes would be counted, and so on.
Jim Genellie, acting city manager, said this system would curb
negative campaigning and improve the chances of third party
candidates in addition to guaranteeing the winning candidate a
majority win. For more information on Instant Runoff Voting log onto