Minneapolis Elections wins national honor for Ranked Choice Voting implementation

The City of Minneapolis Elections Department has been honored with a national award from the National Association of Election Officials, for its work to implement Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) in the city in 2009. The association presented Minneapolis with its Guardian Award, which recognizes work that exemplifies the association’s code of ethics, principles, and standards for the elections profession.

Minneapolis voters approved using Ranked Choice Voting for municipal elections in 2006, and after three years of preparation, it was first used in the 2009 election. Minneapolis is now the largest jurisdiction in the United States ever to implement 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.

In presenting the award, the National Association of Election Officials noted "The enormity of the task and the level of detail it encompassed were mindboggling as they developed processes and successfully hand-counted an RCV election. This is an example of our profession at its best."

"Minneapolis’ elections staff did remarkable work to make RCV a reality, working with the City Council and the community throughout the process," said City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, who chaired the Council’s Elections Committee during the time that RCV was being implemented. "This award is especially meaningful because it’s recognition from their peers who work in elections all across the country. They know what a challenge this was, and our elections staff met that challenge with hard work and great professionalism."

"There are thousands of details to be worked out when you make a change like adopting RCV, and the fact the 2009 election went so smoothly shows how committed our elections staff is to doing the job right," said City Council Member Cam Gordon, who currently chairs the Council’s Elections Committee. "Our city should be proud of the work they’ve done to keep the quality and integrity of our elections so high."   

After the City's voters approved using Ranked Choice Voting, elections staff and their partners were charged with creating processes and protocols for holding an RCV 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 following the 2009 election 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.

For more information on elections in Minneapolis, visit the City's Elections web page.

Aug. 20, 2010

Published Aug. 20, 2010