Is instant runoff voting a good idea?

Voters in St. Paul will decide next month whether to adopt instant runoff voting for municipal elections. In Minneapolis, voters have already approved the system and will use it this year for the first time. Is instant runoff voting a good idea?

  • jane

    Yes, let’s give instant runoff voting a try. It will be good.

  • Steven

    Good idea. Better than plurality elections like we have now. But still not ideal.

    Abraham Lincoln got the Republican nomination in 1860 by being everyone’s second choice, even though he was almost no one’s first choice. He turned out to be one of our two greatest presidents ever. Someone like Lincoln could never be elected today, because the election system we’ve got now tends to give a choice between extremists and weeds out anyone who could be considered a consensus candidate. Instant runoff voting would help but won’t completely solve this problem.

    Another option would be “approval voting.” (Look it up on Wikipedia.)

  • Curt

    I think it’s good way to save the taxpayers some money and get some results quicker than the current way of voting. If the Minneapolis model works as planned, it should be applied to statewide elections.

  • Dag Knudsen

    If democracy and fairness to voters and candidates is important, then the answer is yes! IRV (a.k.a. Ranked Choice Voting) assures majority winners, solves the spoiler problem, reduces ‘wasted’ votes, has been used in public elections for more than a century, and has multi-party support in the US. IRV eliminates the spoiler issue where voting for your preferred candidate may help the one you absolutely do not want to win. The current system, first-past-the-post or plurality voting, only works fairly when two candidates are competing. Since Minnesotans overwhelming support the presence of more than two parties then we deserve a voting system that works fairly in a multi-party environment or where more than two candidates are competing for an office. And—the Minnesota Supreme Court states that IRV does not violate the constitutions of MN and the US.

  • Tim Nelson

    Lets say that Franken and Colman waged the same negative ad campaign, but there was instant runoff voting. The group that found this type of political campaign repugnant would decide the election.

    If, however, the race was clean, then most people would use their option to not vote for more than one candidate on the ballot.

    Some people don’t realize that you can vote for a single candidate, just as you always have in the past.

  • Donna

    IRV is a great idea! It will assure that someone elected has over 50% of the vote rather than allowing someone to win with only 37% voting for them . ((63% against!! ) Major party candidates would have to address issues held by other parties in hopes of being their supporters second choice. A green vote could be a real statement rather than a throw away vote. IRV will allow the majority to rule as intended in our voting system.

  • Chuck Repke

    Multiple Points:

    1. In Saint Paul we would still have School Board Primaries – it won’t save money.

    2. IRV ends debate it doesn’t promote it. In the Pioneer Press today Eva Ng gets a guest editorial because she came in second in the primary and she and Mayor Coleman were in a debate. RT isn’t going to debate anyone in Mpls and nobody covers the other 10. If you can’t see how much better the debate is in Saint Paul than in MPLS with IRV you either aren’t paying attention or have drunk the kool-aide.

    3. It doesn’t stop negative campaigning – in fact the only reason why most people would want to vote for more than one person is if they really didn’t like someone else .

    4. People lose their vote in the final run offs. Remember we are talking about a municiple election where people get to vote in both the primary and the general. In IRV on average 15% of the people don’t cast a second vote and when there is a contest they lose their vote in the final round. So, with IRV they are disenfranchised by the system.

    5. …and those people who lose their vote in IRV are seniors, the poor and those with language issues… the people who’s access to the vote we should protect.

  • Stacia

    Yes, it is a fantastic idea. I lived overseas for a few years and used the IRV voting. As much as opponents want to say it is difficult and confusing-it simply is not. It is straightforward AND you can always vote for who you want and not worry about ‘throwing’ away your vote. Countries like Australia that use IRV have representatives from more than just two major parties-they have representatives in parliament from the Green Party, Democrats, Labor Party, Liberal Party.

  • Jason


  • I am in favor of instant runoff voting. I think has the potential to make some third-party candidates viable, since people may be less afraid that their vote will be wasted.

  • IRV allows you to vote for the candidate you want as well as a “safe candidate.”

    IRV would allow third-party and independent candidates to have a much better chance of getting into office. I think it’s a great way of coping with the realities of modern politics.

    The complains that IRV is “too complicated” are insulting, and I can assure you that a candidate that underestimates the electorate would get none of my IRV votes.

  • Mary

    Yes! It means you can vote for whom you want to win, first. Your second vote can go for the “lesser of two evils”.

  • Betty Tisel

    Yes, IRV or RCV – however you spell it, we need it. Once people “get it” I think it will increase voter turnout, because people will have an increased sense that their vote matters. I can hardly wait for Nov 3!!

  • Rich Austin

    Great idea! This way you’ll have freedom to pick a candidate that is more closely aligned with your ideals instead picking one that you feel is the “lesser of 2 evils”.

  • Rick Varco

    No because IRV steals votes from the elderly, the less educated, and the poor. Far too many people have trouble filling in one simple ballot circle. For proof look at all the spoiled ballots in Franken-Coleman race. The more complicated IRV ballot, with more circles, columns, and names, multiplies the chances a person will make a mistake and invalidate their whole ballot. IRV will take votes away from the most vulnerable members of society.

  • Judith Felker

    We need IRV as the two party system has demonstrated over and over. We’re not just Republicans and Democrats. Many don’t vote because they don’t like either party. IRV will give voice to those now non-participating folks, making our state more democratic.

    Minnesota is a leader in many ways; saying yes to Instant Runoff Voting is another example of our forward thinking. Young people understand this particular need for change. Others, including seniors like me, do too. We’ll vote YES to IRV. It’s been a long time coming.

  • David

    RCV allows voters to vote in the same way if they want. If lack the faith that our voters can not figure out how to rank preferences, I doubt the faith we should have in the democratic problem as such. The first few elections may be bumpy, but in the end it will make our elections more vibrant.

  • Bill Kahn

    Yes, it is a marginally good idea as compared to plurality voting, the worst option in use today, but like all ranked choice voting methods, IRV is subject to problems laid out in mathematician Kenneth Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem. The Borda count method is thought to be fairest, but can still be manipulated by strategic voting.

    A method like IRV, as pointed out in “Gaming the Vote” by William Poundstone, is easier to transition to from our present ranked choice method of plurality voting because it is so similar. It has the added advantage of being constitutional at the federal and state levels; most other methods would require some tweaking of the law.

    Poundstone writes of the efforts of a few tech folks who have advocated a change to something called score voting, also known as range voting, that is not subject to any of the problems associated with RCV methods. People will recognize the method as that used in judging Olympic events where judges assign a numerical value in a range of 0 to 10 to performances. Netflix users also rate movies this way. Applied to elections, voters would assign a number in a specified range to each candidate they wish, then each candidate’s individual scores are averaged and the candidate with the highest average, wins (some threshold of rating is required so that a candidate with a few high ratings can not outperform those with more ratings, high or low).

    IRV is a good intermediate step to score voting, and so is a good idea. Score voting remains a better idea. Sticking with what we’ve got is a really bad idea.

  • JT


    Transferable voting systems like IRV enhance democracy by allowing voters to more fully express preferences.

    The “change is messy therefore scary” argument and the “one-voter-one-vote” constitutional argument are both red herrings from the status quo vanguard.

    Get it done, St. Paul.

  • Brad Bellaver

    yes yes yes

  • Paul

    For most choices on the ballot, I don’t even recognized one name. So, I’ll feel even less well prepared when I put my guesses in rank order.

  • Alison

    I would like to see more viable choices than our 2 party system allows, but I’m not sure this is the answer. Though it defies belief, ranking choices is still too confusing for some people. Understanding how votes are counted is definitely too confusing for many people, which could lead to mistrust of the system. If everyone were highly educated, this might be the answer, but that simply isn’t the case.

  • Roann

    Yes. It allows more candidate choices on the ballot and gets rid of the low voter turnout primaries. St. Paul had less than 5% turnout in September and NTC had less than 2% turnout for their primaries according to the NY Times article I read.

    The dismal state of our civic engagement in democracy demands that we quit doing things the same old way and change to allow for more and better participation. Minnesota is a state with six political parties and more breadth in choices than most. It is time to start getting some benefit through broader discourse and participation in the process. We need candidates running issues focused campaigns to allow voters to make informed decisions about who to elect to lead us.

    For the more races where there is more of a contest, such as the park board in Minneapolis, the process is forcing the voters to become engaged in the issues. Unfortunately, the decimated staffs at the big papers are not able to sufficiently cover the contests. The smaller papers are providing more exposure.

    For top of the ticket races where there is no strong opposition candidate (for example the mayor races in Minneapolis and St. Paul) the situation is the same as the two step process, but it costs less for the candidates and the city to run the primaries and get some level of voter participation at the polls.

    I hope that St. Paul voters choose to lead in this needed election reform.

  • kennedy

    The way I see it, IRV is a boon to “third parties”. It allows people to vote first choice to an alternative candidate while still supporting another party with their second choice. This is especially meaningful in Minnesota where we tend to be more supportive of “third party” candidates.

    Chuck Repke mentioned voters being disenfranchised. I don’t understand how IRV disenfranchises any voter. Can anyone explain?

  • Yes. No longer do you need to vote your heart OR your mind; now you can vote your hearth THEN vote your mind.

  • Aaron

    Absolutely we need to get IRV. I’m 25 and since I first became politically active at 16 I’ve strongly advocated for IRV. It frees people to vote for the candidate they WANT to vote for and not be seen as supporting, via a withheld vote, the candidate they REALLY don’t want.

    I also believe IRV can have a moderating effect on far out candidates who lose the excuse of not being voted for because they are seen as “not viable”. In IRV, everyone who could be someone’s 1st choice is viable.

  • Eunice Eckerly

    I am proud that Minneapolis has moved this forward and I urge and hope St. Paul will also. People are not voting now, and I think this is improvement in encouraging inclusiveness. Anyone can learn how to do this. Going 1, 2, 3, is not dfficult, and as far as knowing the candidates names, not recognizing names has happened in the current system anyway. It does not have to change many things that are good about our current process, but it eliminates some of the unnecessary stacking of the deck.

  • Tom

    YES! We have elected too many people with under 50% of the vote in this state. Many states require a runoff, but paying for a whole new election gets very expensive, plus often fewer people show up for the runoff. Instant Runoff allows for the majority’s voice to be heard w/o the expense and hastle of a 2nd election.

  • bmw

    Yes! Ranked Choice Voting eliminates costly primaries, eliminates pluralities, and brings civility back to elections. It allows more participation from voters when they vote for their preferred candidate and takes away the spoiler effect. It is time for us to join the 21st Century and strengthen our democracy by requiring that candidates win by a majority rule. RCV empowers voters and makes candidates focus on the issues.

  • Audrey Johnson

    It’s a great idea, and it’s about time. The old way got us politicians who thought they had support for their ideas, when in fact less than half of voters agreed with their positions.

  • Nancy

    YES! I am tired of having people elected with 40-some% of the vote and no idea who the majority of voters really favored. Plua, RCV will save money, and the current city council race in Minneapolis seems to be demonstrating that it increases civility in campaigning, as well.

  • Dan Duddingston

    Yes. It’s a step in the right direction for Saint Paul.

    IRV is the WORD !

  • Tom

    Chuck said: “People lose their vote in the final run offs…with IRV they are disenfranchised by the system”

    I say, how is this any more of a disenfranchisement than voting for the 3rd place candidate in the current plurality voting system? – its not!…at least with IRV/RCV you have the choice of picking a backup candidate for 2nd choice if you are so inclined – if you dont then its no more disenfranchisement than not showing up to the polls is disenfranchisement

    i’m happy that Minneapolis is moving to RCV & I encourage St Paul to follow in our footsteps

  • Yes on November 3rd in St. Paul!

  • Mike in St Paul

    IRV is not a perfect system, because it tends to push aside the middle ground candidates in favor of the extremes. However, I am in support of IRV if it allows us to move to a better system of elections.

  • Sarah

    Proportional representation, as is practiced in some European countries, is a great way to avoid a two party system. However, I fear IRV is not the answer. I think it will be a rude awakening for many Minneapolitans when we vote in a Republican mayor because previously democratic voters get excited about liberal third party candidates.

  • Chuck Repke

    A couple of points to the misinformation from the pro side:

    1. Since there has been a City of Saint Paul every Mayor has been elected with 50% +1 votes. We are talking about a municipal election where everybody runs in a primary and then only the final two square off in the general.

    2. In IRV races you regularly have elections where the winner does not have 50% +1 of the people that voted that day, only 50% of the people that still have a ballot that counts after many ballots have been thrown in the trash because they don’t have one of the remaining candidates.

    3. How is that not the same as what happens in three people races? In Saint Paul if the person you support in the primary loses, you get to cast your second ballot in November and about 99.9% of people that vote in primary show back up for the general. In IRV 15% of the voters will not have a second choice (usually because they are seniors, less involved in politics or have language issues) those people are disenfranchised by your voting system.

    4. Improve debate???? Are you kiddinng me? Look at all of the press Eva Ng is getting in Saint Paul. Guest editorial today and in a debate with Coleman. MPLS will have no debates for Mayor thanks to IRV.

    If you can’t see the facts, you’ve been drinking the kool-aide to long. There is no advantage to IRV in a municipal election. It hurts debate, disenfranchises voters and ends up without majorities.

  • Dana

    IRV is a step in the right direction. People who think it’s going to create split-vote problems are not thinking very clearly: voters will be able to show their preference for candidates outside the two usual options while indicating secondary support for one or both of those options. And, because everyone has access to the same ballot, it doesn’t violate the “one person, one vote” principle.

  • linda

    There is no INSTANT in Instant Runoff Voting unless the voting machines can count and rank the votes. In Mpls, it is expected that the hand counting necessary to do the ranked choice voting will be completed by DECEMBER 21., almost 2 months after the election.

    No election equipment that can count these votes have been certified by the federal elections commission. Even if something finally gets certified, there are no millions to replace our machines.

  • David C

    Though no voting system is perfect, I believe IRV is far better than the two-election system, whereby elections can be decided by a minority of voters. Our governor, for example, has never achieved a majority. Although I’ve been a lifelong Democrat, I really like the possibility that IRV offers 3rd-party candidates to triumph when their positions are more sensible, but people are afraid to vote for them and “waste” their vote. I’d like to see it for statewide and national elections too.

  • Cliff Claven

    If you vote for Sharon Anderson, Bill Dahn, Mary Jane Reagan or David Duke, you shouldn’t get a second chance to make your vote count.

  • Jeremy

    As a resident of Saint Paul, I’m planning on voting “no” this November. Not because I don’t support it in theory, but because I want to see how it works in Minneapolis before I mess up my own city.

    If it works well, then we can have it on the ballot next year and I’ll vote for it. If not, well, have fun, Mill City!

  • Rick Varco

    kennedy asked how IRV disenfranchises voters. There are many ways. The person who is so excited about Obama that they mark him their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice will have their ballot thrown out. The senior with poor eyes who fills in two coices in the tiny 1st choice column, will lose their vote. The person who forgets they ranked Sharon Anderson as their 12th choice and also ranks her as their 6th choice, will lose their votes. By multiplying the chances for human error, IRV steals votes.

  • Steven

    How would IRV have worked in the Franken-Barkley-Coleman race for senate? Here are two scenarios:

    1. Suppose Barkley got the most or second most 1st choice votes. Then whichever of the other two got the least 1st choice votes would be dropped, and of those who voted for that candidate, their 2nd choice votes would be counted. Assuming that most who voted for either Coleman or Franken would have listed Barkley as their 2nd choice, Barkley would win.

    2. Suppose Barkley got the least 1st choice votes. Then the election would be decided by who got the most 2nd choice votes among Barkley voters.

    Now suppose further that Barkley would have been acceptable to 95% of Minnesotans, with Coleman and Franken each being the 1st choice of 40%. Under Scenario 2, IRV would still give us one of the two extremists instead of the consensus candidate in the middle.

    While IRV is more likely to produce a victory by a consensus candidate than the system we have now, it’s not guaranteed.

  • Ellen

    Definite YES.

    As for Chuck Repke’s many complaints in his above comments, take a look at the or websites for facts and data rather than unsupported opinions.

  • Thora Reynolds

    For our political health: It’s like a diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables, or a great balance of work, family and outdoor activities. I really believe that IRV makes 3rd (4th, 5th, etc) parties much more viable, and that that is very healthy for the political landscape. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, or there won’t be problems getting it started, but let’s go for it. When I lived in Minneapolis, I was proud to vote for Green party candidates for Minneapolis City Council, and for Jesse Ventura. Did not love all the results, but I love choice, and have no regrets.

  • John Hetterick

    Yes. IRV is a no-brainer in that it avoids prolonged elections and may avoid a situation where someone with only a plurality of votes (under 50%) wins an election. One race that comes to mind is Michelle Bachman’s district. Tinklenberg ran as an Independent. If his voters had expressed a second choice that counted, the outcome might be very different.

  • Peter

    Give IRV a chance. Minnesotans are smarter and better informed than this new opposition group suggests.

  • Mike Burke

    IRV yes – absolutely. Set the wayback machine for Florida 2000. Though it may just be wishful thinking on my part, I believe the vast majority of the Naderites would have selected Gore as #2 choice, hence no W for 8 years of missed opportunities worldwide & running the country into the ground.

  • Jane Prince

    In St. Paul’s September Primary, only five percent of eligible voters turned out to narrow the field of city candidates.

    By giving voters a chance to rank their choices at the general election, we would give the most voters the most choices.

    I’m for IRV because I believe it will revitalize electoral politics, by encouraging more positive, issue-focused campaigns – when people turn out – in November.

  • Ruby Hunt

    Yes. Ruby Hunt

  • Dana Hendee


  • Jay

    Yes. I think this is a very reasonable approach to encourage multiple candidates and less divisive tactics. Let’s give it a try.

  • John Fineberg

    Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) is not easy to explain, nor is it easy for the public to comprehend. Yet it works well, and it’s good for our democracy.

    If you ask average citizens to explain how their car operates — mechanically speaking — most of them would be unable to do so. And yet they can drive just fine without that knowledge.

    It’s of little importance that the average citizen be able to explain how IRV operates — electronically speaking. It’s only important that citizens be able to perform a very simple task: rank their personal preferences for each office. Beyond that, it doesn’t matter whether we understand what goes on “under the hood,” so long as we have state-of-the-art security systems and a paper trail (just like any other type of election).

    IRV gives everyone an opportunity to have their preferences count. And that’s true democracy at work.

  • Peter

    Yes to IRV: since you can indicate your first, second, and third choices, candidates will have reason to stay positive and appeal to a broad spectrum of voters instead of a narrow base

  • Lynn Levine

    IRV is a good idea. Once it is understood one can see it will help people get their true preferences recognized.

    We currently have a Republican governor who had less than 40% of the vote. If we had ranked choice the split between Independents, Democrats and Greens would have allowed a more middle of the road governor. Also it shows people how the majority candidate won (eg if there is a winner who is a moderate, does he represent the second choice of Greens? Of Libertarians?)

    I think, if not perfect it is a wonderful step in the right direction.

  • Dave D

    IRV will get me to participate regularly in what now are pre-determined outcomes in this city.

    Dave D

  • Helen

    Let’s try it!

  • Kent Eklund

    Yes, it is the best idea to reinvigorate our election process and encourage multiple choices without eliminating he need for majority based winners.

  • Diane Steen-H.

    Often one reads or hears how “polarized” our society is. (Witness the healthcare debate, e.g., the Aug. town halls.) If the system is set up so that only two parties are viable, that’s no surprise! One of the 1st results of having IRV/RCV is more civility in political discussions, instead of regression into either-or, good-bad, or other immature dichotomies.

  • MelanieS

    IRV/RCV is an important reform of our current voting system. IRV is a majority system that better reflects the will of the voters. IRV saves the city the cost of low-turnout primaries (7% in St. Paul this year) and allows all candidates to compete in the general election. Minnesota has always been a shining example of inclusivity and participation. It is exciting to see our state at the forefront of electoral reform.

  • Rick Varco

    Mike Burke says IRV would have solved Al Gore’s problem in FLA. But Gore’s biggest problem was the thousands of Palm Beach seniors who improperly filled out the infamous ‘butterfly’ ballot. They voted not for Gore but mistakenly for Pat Buchanan. Those voters would have been even less likely to correctly fill out an IRV ballot. Gore needed a simpler ballot not a more complex one.

  • Stephen Indvik

    I have been a voter for 35 years. During most of that time, I have felt terribly constrained by an entrenched two-party system where neither party reflects my values and priorities. It’s about time we allow other voices to enter the election system. Let’s make Minnesota the most democratic of states!

  • Roger

    Yes, Instant Runoff Voting is a good idea for cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul, and it would be a great idea statewide. Just think, under IRV we would not have had governors nor senators elected to their posts by a minority of voters. What a radical idea!

  • Jack Fei

    I say yes. It encourages multiple candidates and weakens the two party system that have led to a “politicicization” of key issues.

    A runoff system encourages a voter to vote their prefrences without having to worry about “whether their vote counts”. A candidate and the “political operatives” will be effectively put out of business by this change since candidates can no longer win by “running against” an opponent from the other political party.

    Also, the cost of elections is reduced by having fewer elections, thereby reducing costs in these difficult economic times.

  • Barbi Byers

    Having served as an election judge in primaries and elecions, I am eager for IRV to become reality in St. Paul and Minneapolis. If successful, it should be adopted in state elections. It saves time, energy, dollars for candidates, tax payers, government; it makes voter intent transparent; and IRV strengthens the democratic process.

  • Joel Clemmer

    Give people the option (OPTION) of rank ordering their choices for office? Why not?

    Opponents claimed that granting that right would be unconstitutional. The courts proved that argument wrong.

    Now the opponents are claiming that we are too stupid to understand this option and will mess up our ballots. Australia, Ireland, Scotland and over half a dozen jurisdictions in the U.S. happily use ranked choice. So, we must be stupider than the [..insert your chosen nationality from the above..]? Give me a break!

    Yes, of course.


  • Michele

    Yes! It reduces the spoiler effect of third- (or more) party candidates. People can vote for their favorite candidate without worrying about giving the candidate they least want an advantage.

  • Tim Goetsch

    It’s just a gimmick. It’s been a long time since I’ve even had a second choice in an election. As far as I’m concerned, second place is just first loser.

  • Carole Rydberg

    Yes! IRV means never having to vote for one person when you may really want to vote for someone else but fear that doing so may enable a third party to win. Also, with IRV you are more likely to be represented by people who have received a majority of the votes. IRV would eliminate the need for many primaries and would save the municipalities (and school districts, if adopted by them) the costs of an additional election.

  • Isis


    If all of you liberals are in favor of IRV, then it can’t be good for us conservatives.


  • Gwen

    Definitely Yes. Let’s get many more people voting for their choices in one election, more people behind the winners by majority vote, and more positive campaigns to appeal to more voters.

  • Bonnie Blodgett

    YES! Informed voters are what we want. That means informed enough to make a first choice for the dream candidate and a second choice for the one they could live with. IRV makes your vote count more, not less, and the voting process meaningful instead of kneejerk and perfunctory.

  • Troy

    This year’s mayoral is a rare exception, but for the most part, when we vote in a general election, we get to choose between two democrats. One-party dominance is not healthy. We need diversity of values and ideas, but our current voting method gaurantees the DFL will monopolize power in our City for as long as this system exists.

    With IRV, we can eliminate the poorly attended primary, allow all candidates to go to the general election, take advantage of the far better voter turnout and get a better read of the voters’ intentions. IRV means a better ballot, better elections, and better democracy.

  • Michele


    This has bipartisan (or should I say multipartisan) support! If the majority of the voters support you, you are more likely to win – conservative, moderate, or liberal.

  • George Pillsbury

    It is long overdue.

  • Paul Landskroener

    Count me yes on all three choices.

  • Julia May

    Yes. Single Transferable Vote is a fantastic way to get 50% approval of the winner within one election. It gives voters the opportunity to vote their conscience, rather than their fears.

    A big argument is that it’s “confusing” to the elderly. Let’s stop pigeon-holing everyone over 65! Our elders are smart and capable people who contribute to society daily. Like many of us, they’ve been ranking preferences since Grammar school.

  • Seth Kuhl-Stennes

    Yes, yes, yes!!

    The use of IRV is less costly, more democratic, increases voter turnout, and gives all viewpoints a stronger voice in the political arena.

    To suppose some of us (i.e. the elderly and minorities, as previously mentioned) are not smart enough to properly fill out the ballot is ridiculous! Yes voter education is necessary and crucial, but the Minneapolis ballot is very straightforward and we are all capable of filling in ovals.

    Those from St. Paul who are hesitant to vote yes for IRV in November because they want to see how it works in Minneapolis should look at other cities (specifically San Francisco) and their success with IRV.

    In the words of George Pillsbury: “It is long overdue.”

  • Anne DeCoster

    Instant runoff voting is a terrific idea, and it’s been used successfully many places for years. Think of the $ we would have saved if we hadn’t had to go through all that mess with the Franken/Coleman election.

  • Sharon in St. Paul


    If we all as kids grew up using majority rule through IRV, rather than simple voting, most votes win, we wouldn’t even have to ask this question. We’d know how to do it and we’d know it works.

  • Stephen Arnott

    I support IRV for all the sound reasons that others have put forward. Much of the criticism is simply misinformation or outright ignorance. However, I did want to comment on the post that suggested IRV “is not a perfect system, because it tends to push aside the middle ground candidates in favor of the extremes.” Actually, it need not. Major parties know they must attract preferences from independent or smaller parties and modify their policies accordingly. IRV actually increases the power of independent voters.

  • Terry Devitt


    Insstant runoff is g good idea because then we would actually know that the person winning the election actually got a majority of the votes.

    Bring it on!

  • Tom Moss

    Yes. Instant Runoff Voting let’s me express my first, second and third choices in politics, and have it mean something — as I get to do in other areas of life. What’s not to like about that?

  • Kevin

    Absolutely, YES! Ranking choices in the general election makes far more sense than having the few people that turn out for primaries choose who everyone else gets to vote for. Clearly we need change, and until someone comes up with a better idea, Instant Runoff Voting is a step in the right direction. (I don’t hear all the naysayers proposing something better that solves all of our current problems.)

  • Steven

    Mathematicians have proved conclusively that there is no perfect voting system for selecting one candidate from a field of three or more. Every conceivable system can be gamed and lead to unexpected results. IRV would be a big improvement over what we’ve got now, unless you like having to choose between the extremes and disenfranchising those who would prefer to vote for someone in the sensible center.

  • Amy M

    Yes!! In many countries, a winner cannot be declared unless s/he gets 50% plus one vote. Why do we let candidates win with less than 50%? I really hope this takes off. The two main parties will be against it, because they just like to demonize each other. WIth IRV, they will actually have to take the other parties’ candidates seriously.

  • Renee Lepreau

    Yes! Instant run-off voting brings us closer to a representative democracy. How can we call Saint Paul’s 2009 5% voter turnout for the primary a democracy? Another recent Minnesota example illustrates the benefits of IRV – the Franken/Coleman debacle would have been resolved *instantly*!! I firmly believe in the intelligence of ALL voters and their ability to learn a new, better way of voting.

  • With instant runoff voting we could have skipped a primary last year. Instant runoff voting will make it easier for everyone, and keep more interest in the especially off year elections. More people voting is a great thing for democracy,

  • Bev

    Yes. It makes every vote count. It encourages participation. A person can really vote conscience/preference the first time without worrying re: “wasting” a vote because of the two party system. It’s great that we are all adding our opinions of IRV on the MPR site. If you want a differently visible way of stating your support for IRV, consider a yard sign. I’ve got signs up on my lawn and I’m ready to respond if someone asks me about them. I’ve even got leftover practice ballots from our NNO gathering this year. If people stop to ask about IRV, I can take them through the practice ballot and get them ready for the next election!

  • Steve

    It’s like asking “is a method of voting that better reflects the true wishes of the electorate than the current system a good idea?” The answer is No… if you like tyranny.

  • Mary

    How can someone not like IRV or Ranked Choice voting. When you vote you see everyone running not just those someone else eliminated in the primary. You go to the polls once and if your first choice is eliminated you get your second choice counted without returning to the polls. Easy, fair, and economical.

  • N Lind

    Absolutely! It gives people a chance to vote for their favorite candidate, most-aligned with their values, even if they don’t think that person could win! And, with IRV, they actually may!

  • Carreen

    After spending the majority of my life in the US as a resident alien from Canada, participating in many aspects of community life, I finally decided to become a citizen in order to vote. I support IRV because changing the system MUST come from recognizing and celebrating choice! Change is hard and slow but if we truly consider our options we know that growth requires that we avoid inertia, and take the plunge.

  • Nettie


  • Cornell

    Yes – time for something new that will save both time and money.

  • Jon Grinnell

    Absolutely! If the recent senate race used IRV the 15,000 or so Barlkey votes would have easily determined who the next senator would be–no long, costly recount. Plus it will encourage third-party candidates, something our system could sorely use.

  • Ellen Green

    Yes. Way too few people vote in most primaries. And it’s easy. Why not?

  • Elizabeth T

    The elderly, poor, and illiterate are no different with IRV as any other system.

    At our block party this Summer, we passed out sample ballots to show people how it worked. (The vote for your favorite lake question.) My husband & I hand-counted the ballots on the spot. Out of 20-some ballots, no one had any problem understanding what to do. People filled in the little circle just like they do with any other ballot we get here.

    The only problem: as I collected the ballots, one person had simply made a slash through the circle. I pointed out, “in November, make sure you fill in the circles all the way.” Her response? “yeah, whatever” as she turned her back to me. Voter apathy cannot be eliminated in all cases.

    People need to stop whining about the disenfranchised voter as an excuse for inaction. If you care about the disenfranchised … go do something about it. Citing some inherent inability with the old & poor: this as a carte blanche reason against IRV is simply bigoted.

  • Allen Isaacman


  • Karen Sandberg

    Yes. Let’s give it a try. Primaries aren’t working.

  • Sue

    Yes. We tried it at the Douglas County Fair. Out of 151 ballots (DFL gubernatorial candidates), only two ballots were incorrectly marked. Took a while to hand count the ballots, tho. IRV would have saved us from the Franken/Coleman mess.

  • chuck repke

    Two things… why does anyone in the world think that the Coleman-Franken race would have been counted any quicker with IRV? The chance that Barkley votes would split 50/50 since everyone else splitted 50/50 is as likely as anything else… but these people make up that is what would happen and keep spreading it.

    FYI this is from the MPLS web site as to when they expect to count the city election DECEMBER 22, (just another instant run off problem)

    When are we counting and when will we finish?

    We now have a process that will allow us to finish the count on or before December 22nd. Results for most races come earlier than that.

    Winners of races and round by round results released as soon as the count for that race is complete.

    Random Ward order. Park district results as constituent precincts counted (according to random ward order). City-wide last.

    Rule of thumb: Counting an entire ward will take about 3 days.

    We will count six days per week, Monday through Saturday beginning November 4, the day after the election, until we’re done. Each day will have a full eight-hour shift running 8am to 4:30pm or noon to 8:30pm. (We are hoping to take Sundays off as well as Thanksgiving Th, F, Sa.)

    49 days – 10 days off = 39 days. Down from our previous estimate of potentially 100+ days.

  • J K Flisrand

    As both a voter and an election judge in Minneapolis, I’m excited to be able to try a new way of voting – one that I think will encourage more civility, and has a greater chance of getting people’s voices heard at the “primary” stage than small off-year primary elections have historically done.

  • T Eddy

    Somebody posted that if an overly enthusiastic voter chose (for example) Barack Obama as her first, second and third choices, then that ballot would be thrown out. Actually, under the system Minneapolis will be using, the first choice vote for Obama would be counted, but not the second or third. It would be as if the voter left those columns blank. Count me as a supporter of RCV.

  • Thomas Riddering

    Everyone’s second choice may well be the best candidate rather than having to only choose between the extremes of each party.

  • John

    Of course, Yes. It’s better than the current system which rewards the slick “players” of political games and the entrenched, connected insiders at the expense of new blood, fresh ideas and majority support. It’s more democratic than the current system where your final choices are selected in poorly attended primaries that favor the slick “players” of political games and the entrenched, connected insiders at the expense of new blood and fresh ideas.

    And all of the objective evidence from the multiple other jurisdictions which use it indicate that — contrary to the opponents propaganda — it is not any more complicated than the current system. (Their argument essentially comes down to the offensive and objectionable belief that seniors, minority group members and immigrants are too stupid to rank things.)

  • Andrew Wright

    Instant runoff voting is a sensible evolution of the system. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain. Thanks to all of those involved in moving this along!

  • Kathy

    Of course, Instant Runoff is a great idea. It saves money. It gives voters a greater voice. They are able to choose, in order of preference, all of the candidates they feel are acceptable. Fewer voters should feel alienated by this method than the current method of voting. This is a tested method, used for years by organizations and other nations.

  • Fran Hesch

    Instant Runoff Voting is a good idea because it reflects the will of the majority. Therefore, for single seat elections, it is great. The Minneapolis Model includes Single Transferable Vote for multiple seat / multiple candidate elections which is not a good idea. Small governments like most Cities in Minnesota who elect their top officials via a multiple seat / multiple candidate mechanism will be poorly served by Single Transferable Vote which Mpls has passed. There are other options being used elsewhere in the US that need to be pursued when small jurisdictions wish to use Ranked Choice Voting.

  • Doug


  • Charles Tustison

    I think instant run off voting is our only chance to show the coporate lobyist that we still give a rip about our goverment and how were governed. I suport it 100% enthusiastically. I look forward to and election thats is fair and not dominated by only two parties.

  • Mark Snyder

    Yes. I think it will give voters a greater ability to express who they really want in office and it’s more democratic than having a low-turnout primary decide who goes on to a general election.

    What was St. Paul’s primary turnout this year, 5%? Why waste the money having that election if nobody participates?

  • Catherine

    Yes, because it makes sense and saves time and money.

  • Kathy in Columbia Heights

    IRV is an important innovation. Voting becomes not a painful compromise of ideals, but a chance to clearly express policy preference. Political parties can lead by embracing IRV and instituting IRV in their own party practices. Transparency and IRV will lead to more courageous and representative governing. Voter mandate will mean something under IRV.

  • Mary Himes

    Yes, Australia has voted in this way for decades.

  • Elaine Frankowski

    IRV is an excellent idea —— it allows people to express positive feelings for more than one candidate; precludes the necessity and COST of a primary; and is about as hard to understand as choosing a weekend movie from two or three acceptable choices.

    Those people who argue that the public won’t understand how to do IRV would do better to hold an educational session than to complain.

  • Marie

    Clearly, none of you have ever been an election judge.

    I have, and I can tell you that a significant percentage of people have a REALLY hard time with the existing “mark one choice” ballot. We have lots of voters in Minneapolis who speak English as a second language, don’t have a high school education, etc.

    I’m glad that one of the posters found that their (presumably middle-class, homeowning) neighbors understood the IRV ballot, but it’s going to be a nightmare at the polls, at least in the low-income neighborhood where I serve. Especially because statewide and city races will have different rules.

    St. Paul…just say no!

  • We should try it!

  • Bridget

    I think it’s a good idea. It allows more choices and is a better measurement of what voters want as a whole.

  • Gloria

    Yes, it would better reflect the will of the people.

  • Sieg

    I support IRV. At the last election I voted for one of the two major party candidates because he was the better of the two in my mind, but my first choice was someone else.

    With IRV one need not fear one is wasting a vote in showing one’s first choice.

    Then, if enough voters agree, someone other than one of the two major party candidates can be elected.

    This seems right to me.

  • Bara Berg

    With the EXPENSIVE primary system, a handful of power brokers choose who we get to vote for. Instant run-off voting opens the choices to all of us, guarantees that no-one gets elected with less than 50% of voter support, and lets the winners know what issues are really important to the voters who had someone else as their first or second choices.

    As to the claim that voters who list only one choice can lose their votes in the later rounds — that’s just not true! If you list only one choice, that candidate will get your vote in EVERY round of counting.

  • Lucy

    Yes indded ~ It is something we should have figured out long before now, let’s not wait any longer.

  • Barbara

    Absolutely. I wonder how much it cost St. Louis Park to have a primary in Ward 4 last month? If only that could have been decided at the regular election, what a bunch of money we would have saved.

    Three candidates. Rank your choice. If your first one doesn’t make it, maybe the second choice would.

    Better than wasting all that money for three candidates and just over 300 votes cast. Pathetic.

  • Jay

    I think IRV is a great idea.

  • Doug

    Yes, I think IRV is a great idea.

    I recall a number of cases where friends or colleagues decided not to vote for a minor-party candidate because they didn’t want to ‘waste their vote”. With IRV, one can put a minor-party candidate #1, then #2 would be their favorite major party candidate. If the minor party candidate receives two few votes, their #2 vote is still counted. No wasted vote.

  • sharon collins

    I am 70 and I am feeling belittled ! Hey — I am not feeble nor feeble minded ! In fact I am an Election Judge……and having just been to annual training I can assure all that this is NOT difficult.

    I am a supporter.

    — Now if we could only get proportional representation !

  • Truman

    Yes. It brings greater fairness to the process and promises to significantly increase voter turnout in St. Paul.

  • chuck repke

    If you actually want to learn a few FACTS about Instant Run off Voting try this link:

    It explains how in many if not most of the IRV elections you actually don’t get a majority of those that went to the polls that day, only a majority of those who’s votes haven’t been thrown it the waste basket by the IRV voting system.

    I don’t want to tick off an seniors or people with language issues or the less sophisticated voter but the FACTS are that about 15% of the voters will LOSE THEIR VOTE in a Run-off election.

    Its a fact that our friends at Fairytale Vote just refuse to tell you.

  • Susan Widmar

    I went to only to see that the explanation was incomplete. The Round 3 totals are obscured in the first example. They declare that two “winners” had percentages in the 40s. They did land in the 40s in Round 1, which is why further rounds were required. That’s the point. They didn’t have a majority. What they don’t show is the rest of the math, and the numbers are cropped off screen. I’m looking forward to the day when a candidate spends his/her time and money telling me why s/he should get the job, and not spending it telling me why the other should not. Vote yes to IRV in St. Paul.

  • Darryl Carter

    Officeholders elected by by 50% plus one of the votes, seems like a good idea to me. There are only two ways I can think of to accomplish that. One is open primaries, the other is Instant Run-off Voting.

  • Karen Nordstrom

    This would have been valuable in mid September here in Bloomington when the city had to conduct a primary for my “at large” city council seat. There were 4 of us in this race and this was the only item on the ballot! It cost Bloomington about $60,000 to run an election. If IRV had been in place we could have postponed this until the general election on Nov 3. We had low voter turn-out, needless to say, only 3.4% took the time to go to the polls. To add to this problem, there was zero information in our local paper so many of the calls I made were letting people know for the first time that this was taking place. We would have had even fewer voters, had I not had my lawn signs out and done all the calls to the frequent voter list.

    Hopefully Bloomington will enact the IRV soon.

  • Kristin

    yes to IRV.

  • John Dalsveen

    I believe that IRV is a good idea. At least it’s worth a try.

  • No – IRV is not a good idea. It doesn’t ensure majority winners in a single election, doesn’t save money if you honestly account for all the costs, is confusing for voters and the people who have to count the elections, there is no federally certified software to tabulate IRV, and because it gives the election to the 1st round winner in the large majority of the elections vs, traditional runoff elections which flip the race to the 1st round 2nd place finisher 33% of the time.

  • Diane

    YES, YES, YES. I am an independent grassroots organizer. We are 42% of the registered voters. In MA of all registered voters, we encompass 49%. In conversations with many, many people on the street, the current plurality does not allow them to vote with their convictions, they end up voting for the lesser of two evils. Is that true representation? It creates an environment where who runs for office needs to be accountable to US the voter instead of THEM the party…

  • dollis Scheele

    I believe all elections should be instant runoff because I see no other way to break a party system of only two parties and get back to politicians looking out for their voters. The parties and lobbiests have too much power and no non-party person can be elected today out of fear of getting the worst canidate in.

  • Mimi Jennings

    IRV is a great way to allow wider views access to the electoral process, while saving money and energy. It’s a win-win.

  • Cynthia

    YES to IRV or Ranked Choice Voting! What could be easier? You pick your first choice, and then if you want to: pick a second and a third. So easy – A child could do it.

    And it truly represents the will of the people. I’m tired of seeing candidates win with less than 50 % of the vote.

    Wouldn’t it be great to see this go statewide – for our governor’s race? Vote YES in St. Paul.

  • John Mohr

    IRV enables the voter to vote for the candidate he or she thinks is best qualified, even though the candidate may not appear to be a frontrunner, while at the same time allowing the voter to indicate his or her choice among perceived frontrunners. Thus, the “best candidate” gets a vote that otherwise may have gone to a candidate who was viewed as less qualified but the lesser of two evils among the frontrunners.

    Let’s give IRV a try!

  • Dwight Haberman

    It’s the only way that really works.Obviously the major political parties won’t like it.


  • berd whitlock

    Go IRV!

    I believe that IRV will be a big step ahead in elections. People will no more be faced with a choice of voting for the “lesser of two evils” because they will be able to vote for whom they want without fear of taking away votes from a “lesser” candidate.

    IRV will help to break up the “two-party duopoly.”

    IRV is the way to go. The choice is clear.

  • Eric Paul Jacobsen

    Instant Runoff Voting will give every voter more choices, reduce thrown-away votes, diminish the effect of gerrymandering, and increase every voter’s chance to pick a winner. It will make our elections represent us more accurately.

    There is nothing “wrong with IRV” that isn’t doubly wrong with the way we run elections right now. Unpredictable results? Our elections are already unpredictable – and the way the system is constructed now, a politician can win an election with less than 50% of the vote, thereby discounting the choices of a majority of voters. This is intolerable.

    Fear of IRV is nothing more than fear of democracy.

  • JobyLynn

    I think this is a no brainer and anyone who has a problem with it is just feeling threatened that maybe we will end up with more choices then tweedle dee and dumber which is what so often happens when there are only two real parties to choose.

    I would say that in almost every case (almost being the operative word) the two parties are not that different from one another.

    It will be interesting to see that peoples “wasted vote” choices will start to be heard and maybe that will give them the courage to start making those choices their primary votes instead of second choice for the lesser of two evils reasoning.

  • Joe Marty

    I support IRV over our current voting system, although I agree that we should also encourage more debate and discussion, which is even true with our current election system.

    However, Range Voting ( ) is simpler, and goes further to solve some of the problems that are still present in IRV (most of which, and more are also present in our current voting system, I might add).

  • YES YES YES. Go IRV! It will finally allow for a true multi-party system. We’ll have the freedom to vote for the BEST candidate, not just the least of the worst out of fear that the worst of the worst will win if we don’t. The Europeans have known this for a long time Having only Reps and Dems is very limiting.