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Duluth City Council considers referendum on ranked-choice voting

The council will consider a measure this week that could put the matter up for a city-wide referendum.

Ranked-choice voting in Duluth is on the city council’s agenda this week. The proposal, which faces some opposition, would set the stage for a city referendum in November.

St. Paul and Minneapolis already use ranked-choice voting for municipal elections. It eliminates a need for a primary election and allows a voter to rank the candidates so if the first choice is eliminated during tabulation, the next choice would be counted. (Here’s a primer on the method, compiled for the 2013 Minneapolis mayoral election by Fair Vote Minnesota.)

The Duluth News Tribune says City Council President Linda Krug is pushing the effort, with an ambitious timeline. She wants the City Charter Commission to decide by next month whether to approve the change, with council action coming by mid-July, to be ready for a possible November referendum.

Other council members, though, are urging slower consideration, the paper said.

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Council Member Joel Sipress said: “I’m very leery of putting the Charter Commission on such a tight time frame. These questions are far more complex than they may appear to be on the surface.”

City voting machines are already set up to handle ranked-choice elections, and Krug said the issue has been under consideration since 2012, when a task force recommended a referendum.