Ranked choice voting history

We describe the history of implementing ranked choice voting (RCV) in Minneapolis.

In 2006, we became one of the largest jurisdictions to adopt ranked choice voting (RCV).

Since then, we've used RCV in the Municipal Election of 2009, 2013, 2017. Additionally, we used RCV in the Special Election - City Council Ward 6 in August 2020.

Each of the 22 offices currently on the Minneapolis Municipal Ballot are voted on using RCV.

Background

In November 2006, Minneapolis voters approved a change from traditional balloting to instant runoff (later called ranked choice voting) for municipal elections. 

The first Minneapolis municipal election using RCV was on November 6, 2009.

Nov. 2009 - Present

Minneapolis uses RCV in all municipal elections

Since the first Minneapolis RCV election in November 2009, we've used the voting method in the 2013 and 2017 Municipal Election and the 2020 Special Election - Council Ward 6.

Read more about how we've adapted our RCV process in the elections since 2009.

November 2009

Minneapolis uses RCV used for the first time

The 2009 Municipal Election on November 6 marked the first time RCV was used in Minneapolis - and in Minnesota.

Minnesota Election law requires both federal and state certification of all electronic voting systems. Because Minneapolis did not have certified equipment to conduct a RCV election, City elections staff had to hand count the election. This manual process took 15 days to complete.

Aug. 2009

City redesigns the hand-count process

During a one-week session, the City developed the Minneapolis Method of hand counting ballots at the precinct level. Using the Minneapolis Method, hand counting a 70,000 voter turnout for 22 offices would take us 37 eight-hour shifts with 102 election judges serving as counters and data entry staff. This new method assures we can seat elected candidates on time.

As part of the one-week session, the City:

  • Created a RCV training plan for election judges. 
  • Hired an organization to conduct a impartial survey of voters, candidates, and election workers about implementation.
  • Recruited a historian to document the implementation.
June 2009

City Council confirms the RCV schedule

Feedback from the May 2009 test election and other community feedback led to an improved ballot design.

May 2009

City conducts an RCV test election

The test election helped inform how to:

  • Develop the first-draft ballot design.
  • Work with different draft versions of materials for election workers in polling places.
  • Start voter outreach efforts. They invited various groups to try RCV and share their feedback on the experience and the ballot.
  • Develop the method for hand counting the single and multiple seat offices to determine the winners. 
Jan. 2007 - May 2009

Planning process for the 2009 Municipal Election

Planning for the 2009 Municipal Election had two different schedules. This allowed for the possibility that the City Council could postpone the first use of RCV until a future year.

During this two-year planning time, the City:

  • Officially adopted ranked choice voting as the name of the voting method. This change better reflected the process voters use to rank candidates.
  • Reviewed the newly-created ranked choice voting city ordinance for any changes.
  • Determined the best method to count the multiple seat offices to comply with Minnesota law. It was the Weighted Inclusive Gregory Method, which could produce the same election results in a recount.
December 2006

Minnesota Ranked Choice Voting Issues Task Force created

Minneapolis elections staff met with then Secretary of State-elect Mark Ritchie. They asked to create the Minnesota Ranked Choice Voting Issues Task Force.

This task force had an open membership and two subcommittees:

  • Technical Advisory
  • Legislative/Rules
November 2006

Minneapolis voters approve RCV

Minneapolis voters approved a change from traditional balloting to instant runoff (later called RCV) for municipal elections.

The 2006 Minneapolis Instant Runoff Voting Task Force helped plan and implement RCV.

Minneapolis RCV ordinance

Read the rules of conduct for municipal elections.

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