Dag Knudsen in the Republican-Eagle / Pierce County Herald:
Millions upon millions of dollars are spent on helping voters select the candidate that best represents their values. Yet, when the ballots are cast, the Minnesota election system creates results that often works against the voters’ preferences. Our system, known as “first past the post,” has two serious problems.
1) The system allows candidates receiving less than 50% of the votes to take office. When 3 candidates split the vote—lets say A receives 30%, B 30%, and C 40% and wins with a plurality—then the question should be: What is the preference of the 60% who did not vote for candidate C? (Examples at Ref. 1 and Ref. 2) This defect destroys the will of the voters. Policy decisions made by candidate C may be opposite to those preferred by candidates A and/or B. Democratic fairness is achieved when the winning candidates have support from more than 50% of the voters. This year, in Congressional District 1, the two progressive parties received 51.4% split between them. The smaller party spoiled the election for the larger party. The republican candidate received 48.6%, not a majority, and won.
2) The Minnesota election system allows members of one party to recruit someone to run on an opposing party platform in order to split the votes. This “trick” has been used in close races. It is, apparently, legal—but is it ethical? This happened this year in Senate District 27 where it succeeded (Ref. 3) and Congressional District 2 where it failed (Ref. 4). In SD27 the Republican candidate won without a majority support with the result that the Republican Party now controls the MN Senate with a one seat majority. Fair? No. Legal? Apparently yes. Reflecting the will of the voters? No. In our District, Congressional District 2, the trick did not work but is still sending the winning candidate to Congress with less than majority support (Ref. 4).
The solution is proven, elegant and simple: Ranked Choice Voting (RCV)—a method where you rank your 1st, 2nd, 3rd or more choices. Under RCV no-one would play spoiler, intentionally or unintentionally. In a three candidate race the
candidate who comes in third is eliminated and the votes redistributed to the other two candidates in accordance with the voters’ preferences. This works whether three, four, or more candidates vie for the votes. I call it Democracy at work. It is fair to the voters: Their honest preferences are recognized. It is also fair to the candidates and it upholds democracy rule since no-one can game the system.
RCV has been used in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and St. Louis Park for many years. Voters approved RCV in Minnetonka and Bloomington this year. It is used many places in the US and around the world. RCV does not favor a party, it favors the voters intent. It is time for us to implement it state wide for all elections.
Ref. 1: Minnesota Secretary of State 2008 senate elections
Ref. 2: Minnesota Secretary of State 2010 gubernatorial elections Ref. 3: https://minnesotareformer.com/2020/06/15/ and 2020/11/05 Ref. 4: https://www.startribune.com/572888651/
Lake City, MN
Rank Your Vote is a project of FairVote Minnesota, a nonprofit, nonpartisan election reform organization that engages hundreds of volunteers and thousands of supporters. Together, we work for a stronger democracy through public education and advocacy for Ranked Choice Voting, a system proven to be more inclusive, democratic, and representative than our current plurality electoral system. We educate and support candidates, elected officials, cities and voters in preparation for RCV elections.