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Ranked Choice Voting and Civic Tech in Minneapolis

Last week, the city of Minneapolis held an unprecedented election. The 2013 Minneapolis Mayoral race was the city’s first contested mayoral election to use Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). The 2013 Minneapolis Mayoral race also featured quite possibly the longest list of candidates in city history, with 35 names appearing on the ballot. Those two facts contributed to a long, post election decision period, in which it took 3 days and 33 manually conducted rounds of counting until the official winner of the Minneapolis Mayoral race could be called.

Part of a sample ballot from the 2013 Minneapolis Mayoral Election. Photo from KZiM.

Among election and democracy wonks, RCV spurs a lot of excitement and discussion because it is levels the odds a bit for third party candidates. Among civic technologists, RCV has spurred discussion for a number of other reasons:

It’s not just civic technologists who were talking about these issues. Minnesota Public Radio wrote about RCV, including a note on the need for certification and, thanks to Winston Chang, the ease of implementing a RCV program. In a followup by MPR, Winston confirmed his ease of implementation estimate - he wrote his implementation in an hour and a half while watching TV.


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