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As a former Minneapolis resident now living in Ireland, I have been following with interest the ranked-choice voting in this year’s election. Ireland has been using such a voting system since 1921.
We use, in fact, two variants: the instant runoff systems or single-seat elections, and the single transferable vote system for multiseat elections. In both cases, a voter is given a single sheet of paper per race (with different colors of paper for each race), and is asked to write a numeric preference in a box next to each candidate. You can choose to give preference to as many or as few candidates as you’d like.
At counting time, secured ballot boxes are brought to the counting center, opened and dumped onto a table. They are hand-sorted by first preference, and the voting system is applied to eliminate candidates until the winners are determined. No computers are used!
For our presidential election in 2011, more than 1.7 million ballots were counted in less than two days, with the winner (Michael D. Higgins) having received 39.6 percent of first-preference votes, securing the victory after four rounds of counting.
I am somewhat baffled that Minneapolis has been unable to count 80,000 votes in less than a day! I might suggest Microsoft Excel was not the appropriate tool for the job; in fact, a human solution might well have sufficed.
PHIL MIESLE, Ennis, Ireland
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I wish all the media outlets would give the counting process for Minneapolis mayor a break. What’s the hurry? Let the process play out, and let’s get it right — the first time, for the sake of all candidates involved as well as for the respect of the voters who voted.
TY YASUKAWA, Burnsville
They were slipped by voters in an off-year
The Nov. 7 article “Voters sign off on school levies at record rate” has its reasoning all wrong. School officials are mistaken when they state these levies passed because of district residents’ increased confidence in the economy, or because voters now believe schools are running as lean as possible. Instead, these levies were approved simply because of a failure of our election system.
In the Osseo school district, where two levy increases were approved, only 15.8 percent of total registered voters came to the polls. Where Osseo residents had soundly rejected these increases in previous elections, a move to an off-year election finally got school officials the money they had been seeking. School officials know that most people either don’t know about the vote, or won’t come to the polls for solely this issue, thus resulting in a low turnout victory. It is rumored that next year the Wayzata school district will take this strategy a step farther and have a levy-only vote in February, avoiding election day entirely.
It is time for our Legislature to require that school districts only ask for funding increases only on election day in even-numbered years. We are a democracy, and democracy works best when the most voices are heard.
MICHAEL BARNETT, Maple Grove
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.