Support growing for vote-by-ranking system

  • Article by: LORI STURDEVANT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 24, 2011 - 9:15 AM

Momentum for moving Minnesota elections to ranked choice voting stalled when Republicans won control of the Legislature last fall.

The vote-by-ranking system for races involving three or more candidates had had little discernable GOP support, even as DFL and Independence Party leaders have embraced its use.

That may be changing.
Bill introductions in the 2011 regular session’s waning days include one that would give local governments the option of switching to ranked choice voting, and establish voluntary guidelines for doing so.
Its House sponsor is Republican Tim Kelly of Red Wing. Lobbying for FairVote MN, the nonpartisan promoters of ranked choice voting, is former GOP state Rep. Chris DeLaForest.
FairVote’s aim is to invite GOP legislators to learn more about ranked choice voting before the 2012 session.
Though Minneapolis adopted the system in its 2009 election, St. Paul will use it for the first time this year and Duluth and Red Wing are considering it, many GOP legislators know little about it, DeLaForest said.
State law currently bars local governments other than home-rule cities from changing the way they operate elections. Kelly’s bill would give that option to all of the state’s cities, counties, townships and school districts.
Prior to 2010, Republicans had an obvious reason to resist changes in the current plurality-rule voting system.  GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty was elected twice with less than 50 percent of the vote.
But now that plurality rule has produced a DFL governor, Republicans should see that there’s nothing inherently partisan about ranked choice voting.
And they should agree with other ranked-choice proponents that in a democracy, majority rule is a good thing.
Lori Sturdevant is Star Tribune editorial writer and columnist.
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