Last month, several cities around Minnesota held municipal primary elections — most with single-digit voter turnout. Not St. Paul.
That’s because for the third municipal election cycle, St. Paul voters are using Ranked Choice Voting (sometimes simply called Ranked Voting), which rolls the primary and the general into one election in November when a larger — hopefully much larger — group of voters gets to identify their first-choice, second-choice and third-choice candidates from a more diverse pool of contenders.
This year, three St. Paul City Council races — Ward 2, Ward 5 and Ward 6 — will feature multiple candidates, giving voters the opportunity to use Ranked Choice Voting. If you live in one of those wards, I urge you to take full advantage of your ability to rank the candidates.
That means not just picking your favorite candidate, but also identifying your backup choices as well. It’s as easy as 1-2-3.
If I pick only a first-choice candidate, and my candidate doesn’t make it through early rounds of counting, it’s like I voted in the primary but skipped the general election. Odds are that I’m still going to have a preference among the other candidates, even if none are as appealing as my first-choice favorite.
Capital city voters have already shown — across all demographics — that they find RCV easy and satisfying to use: The 2011 and 2013 council races were both decisive successes. The multi-candidate Ward 1 race in 2013, for example, was noted for its civil tone and for the ease with which voters of all ages, races, income and education levels embraced RCV.
Moreover, turnout in that ward was the highest it had been in eight years. At a time when participation in city elections is steadily declining across the United States, that’s something to celebrate.
There’s every reason to expect that this year’s election experience will be every bit as successful and engaging. To help ensure that’s the case, the city — along with civic and community groups like the League of Women Voters and FairVote Minnesota — will be helping educate voters between now and November. You’ll find information about this year’s election at a host of festivals and community gatherings over the next few months.