State's high court to expedite appeal on instant-runoff voting

By Steve Brandt
Published March 18th 2009 in Minneapolis Star Tribune

The Minnesota Supreme Court will take a speedier look at the legal challenge to instant-runoff voting in Minneapolis.

The court said it will grant an expedited review of the challenge, bypassing the state Court of Appeals, and it ordered a compressed schedule for submission of briefs. It also directed the city to tell when it needs a ruling in order to make a decision on which election format to use this fall.

Voters in 2006 approved the instant-runoff method, in which voters rank candidates by preference. The City Council adopted an ordinance last year to use the method starting in the Nov. 3 election, but the Minnesota Voters Alliance challenged its constitutionality. A Hennepin County District judge ruled against the alliance, granting a request by the city and instant-runoff voting advocates to dismiss the lawsuits. The alliance appealed.

The speed of the appeal is important because the city must decide in June whether to invoke a clause in the amendment that allows it to declare that it isn't ready to go ahead with the new method in 2009, reverting to the traditional winner-takes-all method.