It's "ranked choice," and its appeal is growing

By Lori Sturdevant
Published April 15th 2009 in Star Tribune
It's not "instant runoff voting" anymore. It's "ranked choice voting," its boosters advise, and its appeal as a remedy to what ails Minnesota politics is strong enough to pack a Minneapolis mansion on a weekday evening. Tuesday's fundraiser for FairVote Minnesota drew an impressive crowd of leading DFLers, Independence Party luminaries and notable Republicans, including former U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger.

The ability to vote by order of preference -- and, in so doing, eliminate the need for primary elections when nonpartisan offices are at stake -- is slated for its first big Minneosta test this year. Minneapolis is making plans to use ranked choice voting in this fall's election. Barring intervention by the state Supreme Court before a June 11 implementation deadline, said city council member Elizabeth Glidden, the first primary-less city election in the modern era will be conducted on Nov. 3.  

Meanwhile, FairVote, the non-profit that's promoting the switch in voting methods, is pressing for legislation this year to ease the way for other cities to give voters the chance to rank candidates in order of preference.  The bill's chief sponsors are two DFLers, Sen. Ann Rest of New Hope and Rep. Steve Simon of St. Louis Park. Among the bill's laudable features: a requirement that any new voting equipment purchased in Minnesota be designed to tabulate ranked-order votes.