Minneapolis' ranked-choice voting system seemed to pass its first big test Tuesday. Final results were being calculated, with several races not officially decided, but fears that the complicated system would lead to weeks of vote-counting did not materialize.
Ranked-choice voting relies on voters to make first, second and third choices in a given race. A candidate needs 50 percent of the vote to win, and if no one gets that in the first round of counts, subsequent rounds eliminate bottom-tier candidates – and second and third choices are redistributed to remaining candidates. (An MPR video simplifies the concept below.)
But voters seemed to take the ranked-choice voting system in stride, and they were more annoyed with the long list of 35 mayoral candidates, which included Captain Jack Sparrow and Kurtis W. Hanna, of the Pirate Plank party. the Star Tribune reported. One Minneapolis election judge, Jane Martin, told the newspaper that a few voters redid their ballots after incorrectly filling out their ranked-choice votes, but most seemed to have done their research on how the system worked.
Ranked-choice seemed to have both fans and skeptics, but concern that widespread befuddlement would flummox voters proved to be unfounded.
There seemed to be relatively little confusion, the Pioneer Press reported. Judges were able to explain ranked-choice to voters who did not understand it, St. Paul election judge Julia New-Landrum told the Pioneer Press. "Just about 90 percent of people know what it is."
St. Paul also uses a ranked-choice system, although Mayor Chris Coleman easily won re-election in a clear landslide.
Late into Tuesday night, official winners could not be declared in the St. Paul Ward 1 city council race, the Minneapolis mayor race and in three of 13 city council wards in that city, the Pioneer Press noted.
KSTP talked to several voters about their experience with ranked-choice. "As to first, second and third, I don't want to vote for second and third. I know the candidate I want to vote for," Hugh Aylward told the station. Lisa Becker told KSTP that she had practiced her vote at home, but still didn't get it quite right on Election Day. "In 30 years of voting, this is the first time I made a mistake," she said.