A way to speed up vote counting in Minneapolis

The Minneapolis Elections Department has come up with a way to speed up its next ranked-choice voting election — and it’s an idea that might be familiar to readers of The Cities.

The reason it took two 12-hour days for the city to determine the winner of last year’s mayor’s race was the painstaking approach it took to counting votes.

In 34 excruciating rounds, election judges systematically eliminated the candidate in last place, and those votes were redistributed to the voter’s second or third choice.

The process seemed absurd to those observing it, because just three of the 35 candidates in the mayor’s race had a chance of winning. Mathematically, only Mark Andrew and Don Samuels had enough overall support to possibly overtake now-Mayor Betsy Hodges’ commanding lead.

The rest of the field could have been eliminated en masse. But as MPR reported at the time, city ordinance didn’t allow that. Election judges were forced to dutifully pretend it mattered whether Captain Jack Sparrow or Bob “Again” Carney were eliminated first. (Carney amassed 57 votes; Sparrow got 352.)

Now, the city’s election department wants the power to eliminate all non-viable candidates simultaneously.

The mayor’s race could have been counted in a few hours if the law had allowed that last year, according to a new report from the city clerk.

  • I hope Council approves this recommendation quickly given there’s no knowing how long the Federal Election Commission is going to continue to drag their feet in approving RCV-compatible tabulation software.