The St. Paul City Council is likely to decline to put a question on the November ballot asking voters whether they want to change the way they choose elected officials.

More than 5,300 people signed a petition that seeks to put instant-runoff voting for city elections on the ballot. The petition was certified and submitted to the council.

But a draft resolution signed by six of the council's seven members calls for keeping it off the ballot. It cites the city attorney's opinion that changing the voting system could violate the state Constitution and potentially waste taxpayers' money if it were implemented and later found to be illegal.

A City Council may keep a petition question off a ballot only if it's found to be "manifestly unconstitutional." The city attorney says it is.

The group pushing the measure, the Better Ballot Campaign, disagrees.

"We think that election reform should not be voted on by incumbent elected officials," said Amy Brendmoen, that group's spokeswoman. "It's a conflict of interest, pure and simple.

"If the council proceeds in the face of this obvious conflict of interest and votes to block the will of the people, we plan to take the matter to court," she said.

Voters in Minneapolis approved the system in 2006, but it's not in use yet. A lawsuit that seeks to prohibit it is pending.

A second draft resolution, also signed by six council members, says the council would be willing to reconsider the matter after the Minneapolis lawsuit is resolved.

The council will vote on the resolutions Wednesday.

Chris Havens • 651-298-1542