How we count RCV ballots

This is the process we use to tabulate ranked choice voting ballots.

Election night results

On Election night, we use ballot counting machines to report the results of the first-choice votes.

  • We declare an unofficial winner in races where a candidate has enough first-choice votes to win.
  • We may not be able to declare winners based on the first-choice rankings in some races. When this occurs, we then begin round-by-round ranked choice voting tabulation the day after Election Day.

Ranked Choice Voting information session

We hosted an information session ahead of the 2021 municipal election to discuss the election timeline, the ranked choice voting tabulation process, and expectations for unofficial results reporting after the election. The session was open to voters, media, candidates, and all other members of the public.

Watch the recorded session from 2021

The RCV tabulation process

Elections staff at a computer tabulating votes

When we cannot declare a winner using first-choice rankings, the RCV tabulation process begins.

  1. We count each candidate’s current vote total and then eliminate the candidates with no mathematical possibility of winning. This includes the candidate with the lowest number of first-choice rankings. 
  2. We transfer votes from the eliminated candidates to the next-ranked candidate on those ballots. Votes are then re-tallied.
    • For multiple seat offices only: When a candidate reaches the required threshold, they are elected. If necessary, we proportionately distribute that candidate’s surplus votes to the next-ranked candidates on their ballots.
  3. We repeat the RCV tabulation process until:
    • The required number of candidates to be elected reach the threshold and win.
    • The number of remaining candidates equals the number of candidates to be elected, and they win.

Results are unofficial until certified by the City Canvassing Board.

Votes needed to win

The number of seats in a race determines the threshold of votes needed to win.

Number of SeatsOfficeVotes Needed
1 seat Mayor, City Council Member,
Park Board District Commissioner
50% plus one
2 seats At-Large Board of Estimate and Taxation 33⅓% plus one
3 seats At-Large Park Board Commissioners 25% plus one

Here is the formula that decides the thresholds:

Number of ballots cast for office + 1 = Threshold
Number of seats + 1

The threshold is rounded down to a whole number.

In some cases, no candidate receives the required threshold after the counting process is complete. When this happens, the top vote-getter (or vote-getters in races with multiple seats) wins.

More information on how we count ballots

Read the Minneapolis ordinance to learn more about the RCV process.

Contact us

Elections & Voter Services


311 or 612-673-3000


TTY: 612-673-2157




Elections & Voter Services
980 Hennepin Ave. E.
Minneapolis, MN 55414

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