City completes its first Ranked Choice Voting election

The Minneapolis City Council certified the results of the City's 2009 municipal election on Friday, Dec. 4. Minneapolis is now the largest jurisdiction in the United States ever to implement Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) using a hand count. In a Ranked Choice election, the Primary and General Election are combined into one event, and voters can rank up to three candidates for each office.

By making the final results official, Minneapolis is capping off more than three years of work to make this new voting system a reality for the City's voters. In November 2006, Minneapolis voters approved a measure that called for the City of Minneapolis to use Ranked Choice Voting for candidates for City offices. Since that time, elections staff and others have been busy creating processes and protocols for holding a Ranked Choice election.

Although two larger jurisdictions have used Ranked Choice Voting in the U.S., the 2009 Minneapolis election was the biggest ever conducted using a hand count. A hand count was necessary because Minnesota law requires voting equipment to be certified, and there is currently no federally- or state-certified voting equipment capable of counting a Ranked Choice election.

Minneapolis Elections officials, working closely with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office, created a Ranked Choice Voting Issues Group to consider standards for Ranked Choice elections in Minnesota. When it became clear that no federally- or state-certified equipment would be available to count the election, Minneapolis Elections officials developed and refined a new process for hand counting the election. This led to the creation of the "Minneapolis Method" for hand-counting both single and multiple seat offices in a Ranked Choice election. Elections staff held test elections to receive feedback on ballot design and put the counting method to the test several times as they continued to improve the counting process.

Although the hand count was estimated to take several weeks, 240 ballot sorters and counters working at the Minneapolis Elections Warehouse completed the count in 15 days. This allowed the City Council to canvass the results several weeks earlier than expected.

In this election, Minneapolis voters were able to rank their choices for Mayor, City Council, Board of Estimate and Taxation, and Park and Recreation Board. Elections results can be found on the City's Elections Web page.

Published Dec 7, 2009