The folks urging Minnesota to adopt ranked choice voting (a.k.a. instant runoff voting, or IRV) were granted a prime location inside the DFL booth at the State Fair -- a hard-to-miss table beside the north door. They're also in evidence at the Independence Party and Green Party stands.
Not so at the GOP building, lamented Jeanne Massey of FairVote Minnesota. The Republican platform rejects any change in the way Minnesotans vote, she said.
That stands to reason: Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty has twice been the beneficiary of the current system, which allows candidates to win multi-candidate rades with a plurality of votes. He was elected with 44 percent of the vote in 2002 and 46 percent in 2006. The possibility of winning with less than a majority vote would end if the state adopts rank choice voting. The vote-by-number system would count the second choices of voters whose first-choice candidates come in last, until one candidate achieves at least 50 percent plus one.
FairVote Minnesota regards the State Fair as an ideal classroom for ranked choice voting, Massey added. Many people find the concept difficult to grasp in the abstract, but relatively simple when it's explained via the examples on display at the booths where FairVote is welcome. One brochure seems tailored to this year's gubernatorial race. It displays a ballot with three candidates for governor: Candidate I would never vote for; Candidate I could live with, and Candidate I want MOST (warning: could help elect the candidate you fear most.) It asks: "What kind of choice is this?"