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Instant Runoff Voting: here sooner than you think?

Steve Brandt, the Strib’s seer of all things Minneapolis, has a spot-on overview of the Minneapolis political scene headed into the 2009 election year. There’s lots of Rybak speculating, and how the dominoes will fall if his address shifts to D.C. or St. Paul, but there’s one intriguing element that caught my eye. Writes Brandt:

One of the more interesting possibilities, should Rybak quit to go to Washington, is a speed-up in use of the city’s new voting system. The city has been planning to roll out ranked-choice voting, in which voters will rank up to three candidates for each city office in order of preference, for next November’s election.

But if Rybak quit by March 1, that triggers a special election, and the ranked-choice voting system approved by voters in 2006 is the only method now authorized in the city charter, according to City Attorney Susan Segal.

The council has the power to delay ranked-choice voting until 2013 if it feels the city isn’t ready for it, but there’s majority support for the new system on the council. Plus, there’s a timing problem. The council is required to vote on any such delay at least four months ahead of an election, but the charter requires a special election within 75 days of the vacancy.

There is a pesky anti-IRV lawsuit floating around, so maybe a hurry-up Minneapolis special election will find itself next on the docket to Recountpalooza.

Anyway, Dave Durenberger and Nick Coleman, IRV may be here sooner than you think!

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Jeanne Massey on 11/26/2008 - 06:46 am.

    If a special election is required to fill the office of mayor in Minneapolis next year, it will be a good test of Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), assuming the lawsuit does not impact an early implementation. IRV is ideal for special elections because it compresses the traditional two-round process into a single election. The City Elections Department is planning to conduct IRV elections next year with a combination of existing machines to tally first choices and a supplemental hand count to tally races that require a runoff (those that don’t meet the threshold for winning.

    This means that if there is a winner in the mayoral race that gets a majority (50% + 1) of first choice votes, he or she is declared the winner and there’s no runoff off. But if not, then a hand count would be conducted to complete the tallying process, i.e., until one of the candidate wins with a majority of votes.

    This process could be ready to go for an early special election.

    The prospect of a special election for mayor in Minneapolis next year raises the prospect of other possible special elections, should any of the sitting council members choose to run for mayor and vacate their seat.

    According to the Minneapolis Charter (Ch. 2, Sec 16), the same special election rules apply to the vacancy in a council seat. A special election to complete the current term is required if the seat is vacated before March 1. If later (and before the election filing date), the council appoints a replacement from the ward to complete the vacated term. If the seat is vacated after the filing date, it looks like the seat goes unfilled and the winner of the November election takes immediate office.

    Election intrigue continues.

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