Skip to main content

Ranked-choice voting: Yay or nay?


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.

Next Up

no dancing

Footloose! Duluth scraps Prohibition-era ban on unlicensed dancing

Establishments had to have a license to allow the public to dance.

ted mann concert hall - university of minnesota

2 armed suspects rob victim at U of M concert hall

The two suspects pointed guns at the victim.

West St Paul, Minnesota - June 2019

Nine police agencies called in for crowd control after 2 shot in West St. Paul

Police say a large group "attempted to take control" of part of the crime scene.

Brooklyn Center police, Daunte Wright

Brooklyn Center approves $1.3M public safety budget, including policing reforms

The city will use some money from the police department for the new programs.

snow, slush

Snow impacting morning commute across southern Minnesota

A quick inch could make a bit of a mess on the roads.


Minnesota United star allegedly hit teen with gun in Argentina

The 26-year-old could face charges in Argentina.

Chris Finch

Hawks bury Timberwolves in 3-point barrage

Without D'Angelo Russell, the Wolves couldn't keep up with the Hawks.

P.J. Fleck, Gophers football

Kirk Ciarocca returning to Gophers as offensive coordinator

The architect of the 2019 offense will look to revive the Gophers.

Klobuchar - MTP - NBC screengrab

Klobuchar says Congress should pass law to protect abortion rights

Her comments came as the Supreme Court appears poised to weaken — or gut — Roe v. Wade

MPD missing Heard - crop 1_

Minneapolis woman missing a week is found safe

The 36-year-old hasn't been seen or heard from recently.

unsplash cold winter breath dark

Hello, winter: List of the coldest wind chills in MN Monday morning

The state went from a relatively mild start of the season, to downright frigid wind chills.


1 CWD-positive deer in Brainerd Lakes area, so surveillance will continue

The CWD monitoring measures were supposed to end after this year.


Video: How ranked-choice voting works

This will be used to elect some mayors.

Ranked-choice voting could mean weeks before winners are announced

Two St. Paul city council races are too close to call and will go to hand counts next week. One of those races has incumbent Dave Thune in a tight race for his seat in Ward 2.