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Ready or not (many are not) ... here comes ranked-choice voting

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On the eve of Tuesday's elections when Minneapolis faces the first big test of its ranked-choice voting system, some voters still don't understand it.

MPR News hit the streets and asked likely voters if they were ready for "RCV" – a system that relies on people to vote for their top three choices, in order. MPR found voters both confused by ranked-choice voting and by a dizzying array of 35 mayoral candidates.

"It's a little overwhelming, and I can see why people don't vote," Theresa Brakefield told MPR.

Ranked-choice voting has been used in Minneapolis before, but never in a wide open race with no incumbent.

In a nutshell, ranked-choice voting asks voters to pick their top choices in a given race (Minneapolis also has city council, park and rec board and taxation board elections on the ballot).

If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes, then bottom-tier candidates are eliminated, and the first ballot’s second and third choice votes are redistributed to those candidates who remain, MPR explains.

Still confused? For you visual learners, MPR posted a clever 1-minute video tutorial (below) that simplifies ranked-choice voting.

(The city of Minneapolis also posted a video that aims to show you how ranked-choice works.) MinnPost has an FAQ that delves into more ranked-choice minutiae, including this note: there's a good chance we won't know the winner of the mayor's race on Tuesday night.

Only about eight of the mayoral candidates have been waging active campaigns. Those who have were busy this weekend knocking on doors and passing out campaign literature, KARE 11 reports.

One upside to ranked-choice voting: less mud-slinging during the campaign, because candidates hunting for No. 2 and No. 3 votes don't want to alienate voters who plan to cast their No. 1 vote for someone else, University of Minnesota political science professor Kathryn Pearson told KARE.

For ranked-choice to work, voters really need to carefully consider those No. 2 and No. 3 choices – because those votes can determine the winner, experts say. One example: Jean Quan, who was elected mayor of Oakland, Calif., in an upset victory through ranked-choice voting in 2010 because she received the most second- and third-choice votes.

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