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IRV in Minneapolis: Pathway to True Majority Rule in Elections

Category: IRV Voting
Posted: 06/11/09 19:05

by Dave Mindeman

The Supreme Court has ruled. No, not on the Franken/Coleman contest. If that had happened it would already be old news by the time you read about it here.

No, this is about Instant Runoff Voting. The MN Supreme Court has ruled that it meets constitutionality requirements and the Minneapolis city election will be moving forward with this method in the 2009 elections.

This is a major step forward to the ultimate goal of full majority elections. It is also important that the first test of IRV happens in a smaller scale city election.

Because there are some caveats.

Assurances have been made that the Minnesota optical scan system can be converted to an IRV vote tabulation. However, it does not seem to be a very simple process and will probably require feeding ballots through the machines multiple times in very close elections.

I hope that the first round of this method goes smoothly, because I doubt that the voting machine companies are going to produce dedicated IRV vote tabulation machines until the method gets more widespread support.

I would not envy the Minneapolis officials to conduct a hand count in an IRV setting. It most certainly can be done, but it will be time consuming and, as we are all aware, the voting public is getting a little tired of delays in completing elections.

About 6 months ago, FairVote Minnesota (an IRV support group) put out a call to pre-empt problems by adopting clear guidelines:

Minnesota law also allows for state certification of voting equipment, but the Secretary of State must develop and seek governor approval for administrative rules to guide this process, the timeline for which is uncertain.

The Minnesota Secretary of State's Office should move forward in creating and approving rules for state certification as quickly as possible. The EAC (Federal Elections Assistance Commission) process is unreliable and state certification may be required for any new equipment purchased in Minnesota, including IRV capable equipment for elections in cities that adopt IRV for use in 2010 and beyond.

I am currently not aware if those administrative rules have been put in place... but if they haven't, we need to make that a priority for the 2009 election process.

The Governor's office has never supported IRV and has had little incentive to problem solve the issue. Minneapolis will probably have to prepare on its own. The rest of the state will be watching.

So with the Supreme Court's blessing, let's move ahead to a new era of true "majority rule" in Minnesota.

Good luck and God speed to Minneapolis elections.

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