Hand counting of ranked-choice ballots in Bloomington wrapped up over the weekend for three contested council races in the wake of Tuesday's election.
Twenty-two election judges counted the ballots from Thursday morning through late Saturday afternoon.
Both incumbents, Patrick Martin and Nathan Coulter, were declared winners for District 4 and an at-large seat, respectively. A newcomer, Lona Dallessandro, won the District 3 council.
Dallessandro was declared the winner Thursday afternoon after about six hours of counting. Election judges pivoted that day to counting ballots for District 4. At around 10:30 a.m. Friday, Martin was declared the District 4 winner after a second round of tabulation.
Shortly after 4 p.m. Saturday, Coulter reached the ranked-choice voting threshold to be declared the at-large winner.
The at-large seat that Coulter will continue representing was expected to take the longest to count because that race generated the most ballots — over 15,500 — since the position is citywide rather than the other two district races.
District 3 covers the northwest portion of the city, stretching from Hwy. 169 to Lyndale Avenue South, while District 4 spans the northeast corner of Bloomington that includes the Mall of America.
In the first round, Coulter garnered 7,135 first-choice votes while challengers Paul King and Ricardo Oliva earned 4,668 and 3,399, respectively. Oliva was eliminated and after the tabulation of second-choice votes, Coulter received nearly 57% to King's 43%.
About 2,550 ballots were cast in the District 4 race where Martin handily beat challengers Angella Coil and Becky Strohmeier. Candidate Victor Rivas earned about 850 first-choice votes to Martin's 1,232. The two advanced to the next round of tabulating second-choice votes. Rivas earned 43% while Martin earned nearly 57%, surpassing the 50% plus 1 threshold necessary to win in ranked-choice voting.
More than 4,700 ballots were cast in District 3 with four newcomers vying for the open seat. The race didn't require a second round of hand counting since Dallessandro earned nearly 52% of first-choice votes.
For the five cities that have adopted ranked-choice voting in Minnesota, ballots can only be counted by hand or manually on computer spreadsheets because automated ranked-choice voting software has not been certified by the state. Bloomington rolled out ranked-choice voting for the first this year along with Minnetonka, which opted for the spreadsheet method used by Minneapolis and St. Louis Park. St. Paul counts by hand like Bloomington.
Coulter said Sunday that this year's election was "definitely a different process" than when he was first elected in 2017. He said while Bloomington could've gone with the spreadsheet method, it was important to have greater transparency with the public using ranked-choice voting for the first time.
"I would've liked to know officially sooner," he said. "But I think accuracy is far more important than timeliness when it comes to election results."
Kim Hyatt • 612-673-4751