This report summarizes experiences and lessons learned from the 2013 Municipal Election. Based on these experiences and lessons, staff proposes additional ordinance amendments to clarify certain terms and definitions, to amend the process of determining mathematical elimination and vote transfers using Ranked-Choice Voting, and to increase municipal filing fees (
see pages 33-36 for details
). Additionally, this report highlights a series of process improvements staff recommends in preparation for the regularly-scheduled 2014 Gubernatorial Election (
see page 36 for details
In 2006, Minneapolis voters approved the use of Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV) to elect municipal offices. RCV was first used in 2009. Based on experiences and lessons learned in 2009, as well as observations during St. Paul’s RCV implementation in 2011, a series of process improvements was implemented for the 2013 Municipal Election. These improvements resulted in a substantial reduction in the time required to release final results in all races: in 2009, final results were available 15 days after the election with a voter turnout of 45,968; in 2013, final results were available 3 days after the election, with an increase in voter turnout to 80,099. Following is a summary of the changes which allowed the City of Minneapolis to achieve those improvements.
On May 24, 2013, City Council approved amendments to the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances, Chapter 167 [
Municipal Elections: Rules of Conduct
]. These amendments included:
USE ELECTION NIGHT TOTALS OF FIRST-CHOICE RESULTS TO DECLARE UNOFFICIAL WINNERS
The original RCV ordinance required a full hand-count of all races, even when Election Night results were sufficient to declare winners based on first-choice results. This required significant time and resulted in unnecessary delays in announcing final results. The 2009 mayoral race best illustrated the need to streamline this process, since a full hand-count was conducted even though the winning candidate received 73.6% of all first-choice votes on Election Night. Unofficial winners could have been declared on Election Night in 2009 in 15 out of 22 races based on first-choice votes alone. The 2013 amendment allowed candidates who met or exceeded the established threshold based on first-choice vote totals on Election Night to be declared winners. As a consequence, in 2013, winners were declared on Election Night in 14 out of 22 races on the ballot—roughly 64 percent of the entire ballot—simply based on first-choice vote totals.
COUNT ONLY DECLARED WRITE-IN CANDIDATES
In 2009, across all races and rankings, a total of 3,221 write-in candidates had to be individually documented, hand-counted, processed, and reported. This consumed a significant amount of time and did not affect the outcome of any race. The 2013 amendment eliminated this requirement, providing identical treatment allowed under state law for write-in candidates in federal, state, and county elections.
Specifically, write-in candidates wishing to have their votes tabulated individually (known as “declared write-in candidates”) must file a written request no later than 7 days before a general election; all other write-in candidates are reported in aggregate. The cities of St. Paul and Blaine have also adopted this requirement for municipal elections. In 2013, there were no declared write-in candidates for any races on the ballot.
Minn. Stat. §204B.09, Subd. 3.