City Council approves next steps to implement Instant Runoff Voting

The Minneapolis City Council today approved two measures that bring the city closer to implementing Instant Runoff Voting for local elections. Minneapolis voters approved Instant Runoff Voting in a 2006 charter referendum. Since that time, Minneapolis staff and elected officials have been working aggressively to address the issues necessary to conduct IRV elections.

The Council’s actions today included approving an amendment to the City's elections ordinance that establishes the rules for how Instant Runoff Voting elections will be conducted, and how ballots will be counted for those elections. The Council also approved a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a vendor to provide election equipment and services to conduct elections using Instant Runoff Voting.

Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), also referred to as ranked choice voting (RCV) is a voting system in which voters have one vote, but can rank candidates in order of preference. In a single seat IRV election, if no candidate receives an overall majority of first choices, the candidate with the fewest number of votes is excluded, and ballots cast for that candidate are redistributed to the remaining candidates according to the voters' indicated preference. This process is repeated until one candidate obtains a majority (50% or more) of votes.

Since voters approved Instant Runoff Voting in 2006, Minneapolis elections staff and elected officials have been working with the state of Minnesota and other elections officials to identify the steps are required to conduct an IRV election in Minneapolis. Before Minneapolis uses IRV in a local election there are several key issues that must be addressed. The next City election is 2009. However, it is not clear whether the equipment, certification and other issues will allow IRV to be used in that election. The City could also begin using IRV in 2013.

The most significant issues identified relate to the voting equipment, which must be certified by both the Federal and State governments. The equipment currently used by the city for elections is not compatible with IRV and is owned by Hennepin County, not the City of Minneapolis. The City hopes to identify a vendor to provide election equipment through the RFP that was approved today.

Published Apr. 18, 2008