Skip to main content

Video: How ranked-choice voting works

This will be used to elect some mayors.

Election Day is coming up fast. It's not a big presidential election like last year – more local stuff this time around. 

Cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul will be voting on a mayor among other things, and the ballot might look a little different from what you normally see. 

That's because the cities use something called ranked-choice voting, or instant run-off voting, to decide who'll be in office. 


– Yes, there's an election coming up: Your guide to the 2017 St. Paul mayoral race

Basically, you'll choose your preferred candidate like you normally would, then you'll pick your second favorite and third favorite.

There are a couple benefits to this. It helps narrow the candidate pool without having to do primaries. It also keeps people from feeling like they wasted a vote if they prefer someone who's not-so-likely to win. And it helps make sure the winning candidate has the majority's support. 

One downside: It's kind of confusing. 

But it doesn't have to be. Check out the video above to see how ranked-choice voting works. 

But what if you're voting to fill multiple positions?

There's only one mayor, so only one person can win there. But in areas like parks and recreation departments, there might be multiple spots to fill. In that case, things get a little more complicated. 

You still vote like you normally would, but there's some math in the tallying process. 

So you take the number of positions available plus one, and divide the number of ballots cast by that. Then add one, and that's how many votes a candidate needs to win.'s still confusing. The math is all explained in more detail here

Next Up

St. Louis County

St. Louis County set to declare state of emergency ahead of peak flood levels

Volunteers are urgently needed for sandbagging efforts in a small community near Voyageurs National Park.

Screen Shot 2022-05-16 at 5.03.30 PM

Brothers Bar & Grill closes in downtown Minneapolis

The Midwest chain closed its St. Cloud location in 2018.

Ken Jeong

Licensed physician Ken Jeong to do standup in MN this September

The licensed physician will take the stage at Treasure Island Resort and Casino on Sept. 30.

Osseo Police Department

Osseo PD says officer did not pursue suspect who caused fatal crash

The crash happened in Brooklyn Park early Sunday morning.

221 Main Street. E. Albert Lea

Suspect arrested after 3 family members stabbed in Albert Lea

The three victims are related, according to police.


Evidence that omicron strains BA.4 and BA.5 are in Minnesota

The European CDC has warned of a possible significant summer surge fueled by the omicron subvariants.

driving unsplash - crop

Hastings man charged for driving drunk with 2-year-old in vehicle

Matthew Quade's BAC was almost five times over the legal limit when police pulled him over last week.

police lights

Arrest made after person shot at Hopkins apartment building

Police say this was an isolated incident and that the victim and suspect knew each other.


BA.2.12.1 omicron subvariant quickly becoming dominant in MN

Experts say the subvariant is more transmissible but there is not evidence to suggest it causes more severe disease.


More Democrats line up to challenge Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges

Betsy Hodges was elected as a Democrat. All three people that have said they'll run against her in 2017 are also doing so as Democrats.

Video: What matters most to young voters in a presidential candidate

From character to health insurance costs, we asked young voters what matters most to them in choosing a presidential candidate.

Council member who made history will now run for mayor in St. Paul

Dai Thao became the first Hmong-American council member in St. Paul history.

Do you know what to bring with when you go to vote?

Do you need your ID? A bill? Your apartment lease?

This is how President Obama uses free tacos to get people voting

President Barack Obama has some urgent stuff to tell you about tacos – oh, and voting.

Here's how to find out who won in Tuesday's election

30 cities and 145 school districts held elections Tuesday.

Minnesotans can start voting, here's a video to show you how

Minnesotans can vote early starting Sept. 23. Here's a video to show you how.

Election Day 2017: Bad news for Republicans?

Democrats cleaned up in some major races last night.