A vote on how to vote: Critics, backers of instant runoff speaking up in Duluth


When Election Day arrives in three weeks, residents of Duluth will take a vote on how they should vote in the future.

Arguments for and against the adoption of instant runoff voting (also known as ranked choice voting) are heating up in advance of Duluthians tacking the ballot question on Nov. 2.

Cities including Minneapolis and St. Paul have adopted instant runoff voting in the past decade. Instead of holding a primary to narrow the field of candidates down to two, voters see several names on the November ballot and rank their top choices in order.

Those who support the system – including the Duluth Better Ballot Campaign – say it saves the cost of holding a primary and gives voters in the November election more options.

They got an assist recently when Nirvana co-founder Krist Novoselic came to Duluth for a Rock Your Vote event that included a vote for the best local band – ranked choice style.

But opponents who spoke out against instant runoff voting over the weekend included Duluth Mayor Don Ness and five city councilors, FOX 21 reports.

Ness called it a solution in search of a problem, Northland's NewsCenter says, and argued that narrowing the field to a pair of November candidates allows a "one on one contest of ideas."

Katie Humphrey, manager of Duluth's Better Ballot Campaign, notes the turnout for the city's recent primary was 17 percent. Humphrey tells the News Tribune the current system lets a relatively small group of voters set the ballot, depriving more voters of options.

The newspaper reported last week on TV ads in support of ranked choice voting that hit Duluth airwaves, paid for with $70,000 from the non-profit group FairVote Minnesota.

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