Minneapolis Ranked-Choice Voting History

This page describes the process for ranked-choice voting that was first used in Minneapolis in November 2009.  It also details how ranked-choice voting (RCV), or instant runoff voting (IRV) as it was called then, came to be in Minneapolis.


In 2006, the voters of Minneapolis approved a change from traditional balloting to Ranked Choice Voting for municipal elections. See how Ranked Choice Voting was approved.

Minnesota Election law requires both federal and state certification of all electronic voting systems. Since there was not any certified equipment that could conduct a Ranked Choice Voting election, the City of Minneapolis elections staff had to hand-count the 2009 election.

Research and Planning

As part of the 2006 Minneapolis Instant Runoff Voting Task Force, elections staff completed research and reports that would guide the planning for implementing Ranked Choice Voting in Minneapolis.

In December 2006, Minneapolis elections staff met with Secretary of State-elect Mark Ritchie to seek support for creation of the Minnesota Ranked Choice Voting Issues Task Force. This task force had an open membership and included two sub-committees: Technical Advisory and Legislative/Rules Committees.

Minneapolis in 2009

Election planning for the 2009 municipal election included a dual-track schedule, as it was possible that the City Council could postpone implementation of Ranked Choice Voting until a future year.

The 2009 municipal election would have 22 offices on the ballots. In each precinct, there would be five different offices on the ballot.

During the planning process that year, elections staff completed these tasks:

  • Officially adopted Ranked Choice Voting as the name of the voting method to more accurately reflect the process voters use to rank candidates in single and multi-seat offices. In addition, "Ranked Choice" did not imply "instant" results from the process.
  • Reviewed the newly-created Ranked Choice Voting city ordinance for housekeeping changes needed.
  • Determined the best method to count the multiple seat offices that would comply with Minnesota law was the Weighted Inclusive Gregory Method (WIGM), which could produce the same election results in a recount.
  • In May 2009, a "test election" was conducted for several purposes:
    • Develop the first-draft ballot design.
    • Work with different draft versions of materials to be used by election judges in the polling place to help voters.
    • Kick-off voter outreach efforts by inviting various groups to experience Ranked Choice Voting & share their feedback on that experience and the ballot itself.
    • Develop the method for hand-counting the single seat and multiple seat offices to determine the winner(s). Ballots were counted by combining all of the ballots for an office. For a turnout of 70,000, it was estimated that the hand-count for the 22 offices could take between 24 and 129 8-hour shifts of 39 counters.
  • In June 2009, the council confirmed the Ranked Choice Voting election schedule.
  • The ballot design was improved based on the feedback from the Test Election and other community feedback.
  • In August 2009, the hand-count process was redesigned. A one-week "work-out" session developed the Minneapolis Method of hand-counting the ballots at the precinct level to use the precinct level data for analysis by office. Based on the Minneapolis Method, with a 70,000 voter turnout, it was estimated hand-counting the 22 offices would take 37 8-hour shifts with 102 election judges serving as counters and data entry staff. This new method would assure seating elected candidates on time.
  • The training plan for election judges was designed to use at least one-half of the class time to explain Ranked Choice Voting to the judges.
  • Hired an organization to conduct a impartial survey of voters, candidates and election judges concerning implementation.
  • Recruited a Historian to document the implementation.
  • In addition to traditional precinct staffing, election judges were recruited and scheduled to do counting and data entry.

The Minneapolis Method

The Minneapolis Method combines a hand-count with data analysis that avoids using an uncertified ballot counting program.

With the planned implementation in 2013 of certified equipment for use in the initial tabulation of ballots up to the point of data analysis, the hand-count portion of the Minneapolis Method remains as an efficient method for conducting a recount. In Minnesota, a recount must be conducted by hand. In 2013, data analysis will still be completed under similar procedures to those followed in 2009.

Overall, determining winners based on the ballot data rather than sorting and re-sorting the actual ballots was easier and saved time. Some advantages of the Minneapolis Method include:

  • Ballots are counted by precinct rather than combining all ballots for the office. This avoids the problem of candidate rotation precinct by precinct that complicates sorting ballots.
  • By precinct and office, ballots are sorted down to the unique 3-choice combination (including any possible write-in), counted and then documented on Precinct Ballot Summaries. For an office with 11 candidates, there can be up to 990 different 3-choice combinations…not including the write-ins.
  • Counting offices by precinct allowed multiple offices to be counted simultaneously. Combining all of an office’s ballots together for counting would have only allowed one city-wide office to be counted at a time.
  • When the counting of all offices on the precinct ballots is completed, the ballots can then be sealed and stored by precinct as required by Minnesota law.
  • Providing a means to verify that the same number of votes was counted for each of the five offices on the precinct ballots.
  • Counting by precinct meant that many precincts could be counted simultaneously which allows expanding the counting process if necessary.

Implementing the Minneapolis Method

The Tabulation Center

The Minneapolis Elections Warehouse was converted to a tabulation center for counting, data entry and data analysis. Amenities included new vending machines in the break room, improved heating, ergonomic chairs, a cleaning crew and nametag racks to hold color-coded nametags to indicate political party affiliation.

Human Resources

Counters and data entry judges were selected from among chair and assistant chair judges as well as top performing team judges as recommended by chair judges. Every day as judges arrived at the tabulation center, they picked up their name tags and timesheets, signed in with staff and were directed to a precinct pod seated next to a counter with a different color-coded nametag.

Supply and Transport

A supply and transport crew was responsible for ballot security and delivering color-coded supplies to each precinct pod. The supplies were color-coded to help with organization and visual management.

Some highlights of color-coding of supplies:

  • A different color was used for each of the five offices for both the name placards and also the ballot summaries.
  • Beige was used for precinct supply lists, duty cards and timesheets.
  • The only white paper allowed at the precinct pod was the actual ballots.

Other notes on organization:

  • Tables were taped off to create different spaces.
  • Each pod had three sets of name placards with the candidate names to label their sorting area.
  • A three-letter abbreviation of each candidate name was taken from the first three letters of a candidate’s last name. Using the 3-letter abbreviation saved time for counters writing and the abbreviations were also built into the data entry documents.
  • Pods had two color-coded slips used to silently request assistance with supplies or process questions, which helped to reduce the background noise.

Sorting and Counting

Precinct pods for counting were designed using a combination of tables to hold the ballot length. Each pod was staffed with six counters, three teams of two judges of different political parties. A crew of up to six roamed the floor to help with on-going training and to answer questions.

Counters at each precinct pod:

  • Staged the ballots for the precinct (sorted them all the same direction).
  • Inspected each ballot for voter errors specific to Ranked Choice Voting and accounted for these errors.
  • Sorted the ballots for each office down to the unique 3-choice combination (including all write-ins), counted the ballots with that combination and completed a ballot summary for each unique combination in the precinct.

When a precinct office was completely counted, the supply and transit crew would review the ballot summaries for completeness and then deliver them to the data entry teams.

Counting each precinct took between five and one-half hours and eight hours, depending on the total number of ballots and number of ballots with voter errors. Counting began Wednesday, November 4, and was completed Friday, November 13.

Data Entry

Data entry judges working at computers as a team of two judges of different parties, entered the precinct level data from the ballot summary sheets into the computer. The team also double-checked their work. A data analysis team then verified the data.

With six teams of two judges each, data entry of the ballot summaries for a precinct office took an average of one-half hour, depending on the number of ballot summaries. Data entry began Wednesday, November 4, and was completed Friday, November 13.

Data Analysis

Data analysis was conducted using a dual track system. Each of the two teams consisted of a lead analyst and an observer. Both teams did analysis on the same office, performing the exact same steps and calculations, and then verified their results with each other.

Data analysis of council offices (which have between 8 to 11 precincts) took 50 to 90 minutes. Analysis of the Park District offices (which have between 19 to 24 precincts) took 50 to 70 minutes. Determining the winning candidate for the city-wide office of Mayor (131 precincts) took four hours and 20 minutes for one round.

Data analysis for the two city-wide multiple-seat offices with five or six rounds took over eight hours each.

Ranked-choice voting historical documents


Steps to approving ranked-choice voting in Minneapolis

March 7, 2006
Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) Committee recommends to City Council creating Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) Task Force - Proposed Resolution

March 10, 2006
City Council creates Instant Runoff Voting Task Force - Resolution

April 25, 2006
IRV Task Force submits update to IGR - Progress Report

March 7, 2006
Charter Commission rejects proposed Ordinance amendment allowing for IRV

May 9, 2006
IRV Task Force submits final report to IGR - Final Report

May 23, 2006
IGR proposes ordinance amendment to City Council - Proposed Ordinance Amendment

May 26, 2006
Council refers ordinance amendment to Charter Commission - Proposed Ordinance Amendment

June 15, 2006
City Council refers Proposed Ordinance amendment to IGR & Elections Committees

June 30, 2006
Elections Committee Agenda

June 27, 2006
Inter-Governmental Relations Committee Agenda

June 30, 2006
City Council approves amendments to proposed ordinance and authorized consideration of these amendments by the Charter Commission concurrently with Election Committee’s process of convening public meetings

July 21, 2006
Elections Committee Agenda and Reports

August 2, 2006
Charter Commission rejects proposed Ordinance amendment allowing for IRV

August 4, 2006
City Council approves ballot language for November 7, 2006 General Election

August 4, 2006
Elections Committee forwards ballot language to City Council - Sample Ballot Language

November 7, 2006
This question appeared on the general election ballot:

Should the City of Minneapolis adopt Single Transferable Vote, sometimes known as Ranked Choice Voting or Instant Runoff Voting, as the method for electing the Mayor, City Council, and members of the Park and Recreation Board, Library Board, and Board of Estimate and Taxation without a separate primary election and with ballot format and rules for counting votes adopted by ordinance? Yes / No

The Minneapolis Charter Amendment for Instant Runoff Voting passed 78,741 (64.95%) to 42,493 (35.05%).


Background information and the important data files from implementing the first ranked-choice voting election for municipal offices in the City of Minneapolis in 2009.


Ballot Design

Hand-counting Materials

Data & Results

Raw data files for each of the 22 offices in Excel or PDF format

Single Seat Offices
Mayor (pdf)Mayor (xls)
Council Member Ward 1 (pdf)Ward 1 (xls)
Council Member Ward 2 (pdf)Ward 2 (xls)
Council Member Ward 3 (pdf)Ward 3 (xls)
Council Member Ward 4 (pdf)Ward 4 (xls)
Council Member Ward 5 (pdf)Ward 5 (xls)
Council Member Ward 6 (pdf)Ward 6 (xls)
Council Member Ward 7 (pdf)Ward 7 (xls)
Council Member Ward 8 (pdf)Ward 8 (xls)
Council Member Ward 9 (pdf)Ward 9 (xls)
Council Member Ward 10 (pdf)Ward 10 (xls)
Council Member Ward 11 (pdf)Ward 11 (xls)
Council Member Ward 12 (pdf)Ward 12 (xls)
Council Member Ward 13 (pdf)Ward 13 (xls)
Park and Recreation Board District 1 (pdf)District 1 (xls)
Park and Recreation Board District 2 (pdf)District 2 (xls)
Park and Recreation Board District 3 (pdf)District 3 (xls)
Park and Recreation Board District 4 (pdf)District 4 (xls)
Park and Recreation Board District 5 (pdf)District 5 (xls)
Park and Recreation Board District 6 (pdf)District 6 (xls)
Multiple Seat offices
Board of Estimate and Taxation – At-Large – elect 2 (pdf)At-Large – elect 2 (xls)
Park and Recreation Board – At-Large – elect 3 (pdf)At-Large – elect 3 (xls)

2009 Post Election Reports


2013 candidate filings

  • Mayor
  • Council Member - Wards 1 through 13
  • Board of Estimate & Taxation - elect 2
  • Park & Recreation Board At Large - elect 3
  • Park & Recreation Board - Districts 1 through 6
  • Ballot Questions

Candidates for Mayor

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
7/30/2013Gregg A. IversonIverson (pdf)
7/30/2013Christopher Robin ZimmermanZimmerman (pdf)
7/30/2013Dan CohenCohen (pdf)
7/30/2013Ole SaviorSavior (pdf)
7/30/2013Rahn V. WorkcuffWorkcuff (pdf)
7/30/2013Doug MannMann (pdf)
7/31/2013Mark V AndersonAnderson (pdf)
7/31/2013Abdul M Rahaman "The Rock"Rahaman (pdf)
8/1/2013Edmund Bernard BruyereBruyere (pdf)
8/1/2013James EverettEverett (pdf)
8/2/2013John Charles WilsonWilson (pdf)
8/5/2013Mark AndrewAndrew (pdf)
8/5/2013Bob FineFine (pdf)
8/5/2013Merrill AndersonAnderson (pdf)
8/6/2013Bob "Again" Carney JrCarney Jr (pdf)
8/6/2013Mike GouldGould(pdf)
8/7/2013John Leslie HartwigHartwig (pdf)
8/8/2013Stephanie WoodruffWoodruff (pdf)
8/8/2013Tony LaneLane (pdf)
8/9/2013Troy BenjegerdesBenjegerdes (pdf)
8/9/2013Christopher ClarkClark (pdf)
8/9/2013Kurtis W. HannaHanna (pdf)
8/12/2013Neal BaxterBaxter (pdf)
8/12/2013James "Jimmy" L. Stroud, Jr.Stroud (pdf)
8/12/2013Jackie CherryhomesCherryhomes (pdf)
8/12/2013Don SamuelsSamuels (pdf)
8/12/2013Cam WintonWinton (pdf)
8/12/2013Betsy HodgesHodges (pdf)
8/12/2013Jaymie KellyKelly (pdf)
8/12/2013Captain Jack SparrowSparrow (pdf)
8/12/2013Joshua ReaRea (pdf)
8/12/2013Alicia K. BennettBennett (pdf)
8/13/2013Bill KahnKahn (pdf)
8/13/2013Jeffrey Alan WagnerWagner (pdf)
8/13/2013Cyd GormanGorman (pdf)

Candidates for City Council - Ward 1

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
8/5/2013Kevin ReichReich (pdf)
8/12/2013Mark FoxFox (pdf)
8/13/2013Vincent CoffeenCoffeen (pdf)

Candidates for City Council - Ward 2

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
8/8/2013Diana NewberryNewberry (pdf)
8/12/2013Cam GordonGordon (pdf)

Candidates for City Council - Ward 3

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
7/30/2013Jacob FreyFrey (pdf)
7/30/2013Diane HofstedeHofstede (pdf)
8/12/2013Kristina GronquistGronquist (pdf)
8/13/2013Michael KatchKatch (pdf)

Candidates for City Council - Ward 4

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
7/31/2013Barbara A. "Barb" JohnsonJohnson (pdf)
8/9/2013Kris BroganBrogan (pdf)
8/13/2013Dan NiesenNiesen (pdf)

Candidates for City Council - Ward 5

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
8/2/2013Brett BucknerBuckner (pdf)
8/8/2013Ian AlexanderAlexander (pdf)
8/9/2013Blong YangYang (pdf)
812/2013Kale R. SeversonSeverson (pdf)

Candidates for City Council - Ward 6

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
7/30/2013Robert LilligrenLilligren (pdf)
8/2/2013Abdi WarsameWarsame (pdf)
8/12/2013Mahamed A CaliCali (pdf)
8/12/2013Abdi AddowAddow (pdf)
8/13/2013Sheikh AbdulAbdul (pdf)
8/13/2013Abukar AbdiAbdi (pdf)
8/13/2013Abdulahi Mahamud Warsame withdrawn 8-13A M Warsame (pdf)

Candidates for City Council - Ward 7

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
8/6/2013Lisa GoodmanGoodman(pdf)
8/13/2013Peter John Tharaldson withdrawn 8-15Tharaldson (pdf)

Candidates for City Council - Ward 8

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
8/2/2013Elizabeth GliddenGlidden (pdf)

Candidates for City Council - Ward 9

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
7/30/2013Alondra CanoCano (pdf)
7/30/2013Abdi AbdulleAbdulle (pdf)
7/31/2013Charles CurtisCurtis (pdf)
8/1/2013Pat FleethamFleetham (pdf)
8/6/2013Gregory McDonaldMcDonald (pdf)
8/12/2013Ty MooreMoore (pdf)

Candidates for City Council - Ward 10

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
7/31/2013Lisa BenderBender (pdf)
8/8/2013Meg TuthillTuthill (pdf)
8/9/2013Nate GriggsGriggs (pdf)
8/13/2013Scott HargartenHargarten (pdf)

Candidates for City Council - Ward 11

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
8/2/2013John QuincyQuincy (pdf)
8/8/2013Bob SchlosserSchlosser (pdf)
8/12/2013Matt SteeleSteele (pdf)

Candidates for City Council - Ward 12

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
7/30/2013"Dick" FransonFranson (pdf)
7/30/2013Andrew JohnsonJohnson (pdf)
8/6/2013Ben GisselmanGisselman (pdf)
8/12/2013Chris LautenschlagerLautenschlager (pdf)
8/13/2013Charlie CasserlyCasserly (pdf)

Candidates for City Council - Ward 13

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
7/30/2013Linea PalmisanoPalmisano (pdf)
7/30/2013Matt PerryPerry (pdf)
7/30/2013Bob ReuerReuer (pdf)
8/1/2013David ReganRegan (pdf)
8/5/13Missy DurantDurant (pdf)

Candidates for Board of Estimate and Taxation

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
7/31/2013David PascoePascoe (pdf)
7/31/2013David B WheelerWheeler (pdf)
8/1/2013Carol J. BeckerBecker (pdf)
8/13/2013Douglas SemblaSembla (pdf)

Candidates For Park & Recreation Commissioner
At Large

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
8/7/2013John ErwinErwin (pdf)
8/8/2013Hashim YonisYonis (pdf)
8/8/2013Tom NordykeNordyke (pdf)
8/9/2013Jason StoneStone (pdf)
8/12/2013Annie YoungYoung (pdf)
8/13/2013Mary Lynn McPhersonMcPherson (pdf)
8/13/2013Meg ForneyForney (pdf)
8/13/2013Steve BarlandBarland (pdf)
8/13/2013Casper HillHill (pdf)
8/13/2013Ishmael IsraelIsrael (pdf)

Candidates For Park & Recreation Commissioner
District 1

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
8/1/2013Liz WielinskiWielinski (pdf)

Candidates For Park & Recreation Commissioner
District 2

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
8/1/2013David LuceLuce (pdf)
8/8/2013Jon OlsonOlson (pdf)

Candidates for Park & Recreation Commissioner
District 3

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
7/30/2013Scott VreelandVreeland (pdf)
730/2013Said MayeMaye (pdf)

Candidates for Park & Recreation Commissioner
District 4

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
8/8/2013Anita TabbTabb (pdf)
8/8/2013Bobby DavisDavis (pdf)

Candidates for Park & Recreation Commissioner
District 5

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
7/30/2013Steffanie MusichMusich (pdf)

Candidates for Park & Recreation Commissioner
District 6

Filing DateCandidate NameFiling Affidavit
7/30/2013Josh NeimanNeiman (pdf)
8/2/2013Brad BournBourn (pdf)

2013 Election Educational Materials

The Minneapolis Elections & Voter Services Division developed and compiled a variety of resources to be used in sharing information about the 2013 municipal election. These resources helped share key educational messages about the election with a variety of audiences across the city.

Brochures, fliers & educational materials

Ranked Choice Voting - One page flier - English (pdf)

RCV: Easy as 1, 2, 3... - Half sheet flier, double sided - English (pdf)
RCV FAQ - English (pdf)
Counting a Ranked Choice Voting Election - English two page flier (pdf)

Roadmap to Voting - English (pdf)

Voter Information Guide - English double-sided flier - 11 x 17 (pdf)
Vote Minneapolis Activity Book for Elementary Students - English (pdf)