Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ranked Choice Voting at Minnesota Senate Subcommittee on Election

Senate Subcommittee on Elections
AGENDA - Ranked Choice Voting
20 November 2007

Senator Dan Larson - Committee Chair

1) Jeanne Massey - FairVote Minnesota

Intro to Ranked Choice Voting by FairVote Minnesota via powerpoint

Senator Chris Gerlach R-Apple Valley - [ Clearly upset, angry about this issue. Wanting to throw a temper tantrum? ]

When he asks for a logical conclusion in an election of 100%, Is he calling for consensus elections? Could we have a blocking concern against a candidate and block the outcome of an election as a single voter? Elections would never have a conclusion in Gerlach's assumption of election consensus. [ Photo is of Gerlach making this leap of logic at consensus voting ]

"Abraham Lincoln elected by a majority"
Partisan primaries and general joined together? Gerlach has not done his homework on IRV when he asked this ridiculous question. He was only given the talking points against Ranked Choice Voting.


John Gilbert - Wake Co. N.C. Board of Elections 2007 -

Carie - 112,000 suburb of Raleigh - saved $28,000 in election costs

Hendersonville 12,000 in Western part of county -

No split votes, neither were partisan. Objectives of county election judges
1) Election conducted with integrity
2)Do all they can within limited authority to facilitate voting by all citizens

2004 Wake County outvoted many other counties, including Charlotte, N.C.
Don't count votes people are not entitled to vote for.
Designing voting laws is not rocket science. This brings us as close as possible to a fair government. Election proved that IRV is as easy as 1,2,3. Rankings only affected one race, an at-large race.

Opponents insist on it being complicated, but people are used to making choices. Exit polls confirmed that voters liked it and had no problems with it. It was the same regardless of ethnicity, income, where they lived, age, or any other criteria.

Gerlach "agrees it simple at the front end. Behind the scenes the choices are manipulated through math and formulations. How many understand how it works?"

Gilbert - "About as many as can explain how are President is elected. The powerpoint makes it look complicated, but it really isn't. There are different ways of tabulating. What we did in Carie was simply voting by hand, though computer programming exists. What people often don't understand, is that their second choice can never be the enemy of their first choice, it brings you closest to majority rule."

Gerlach - "Far more people understand how electoral votes work. Clearly IRV creates a gymnastics of confusion. It is far more complicated than you make it appear."

Gilbert - "IRV is not a left or right issue, is not a Democrat or Republican issue. If you believe that Democracy is that over half the people are right most the time, this brings you the closest to this. "


Betsy Hodges - City Council - Minneapolis

Voted as a council to put Ranked Choice Voting on the ballot. 65% of the voters approved in 2006. Many events to inform public, citizens very enthusiastic of RCV after they understood it.

Cyndy Reichert - Director of Elections - Minneapolis

Studied election law extensively and released a report. ( http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/irvoting.pdf )

Working towards a 2009 elections, and may delay until 2013 to replace equipment with Rank Choice compatible

4) Beth Fraser - Secretary of State's Office

Excited about the process. A statewide issue, other cities are examining this method such as Red Wing and Hopkins.

5) Joe Mansky - Elections Manager for Ramsey County

No position for or against RCV. All voting equipment certified by Secretary of State prior to RCV proposed, currently a "Winner takes all" system. Two voter equipment vendors are working to create equipment that will meet Federal voting standards. We will not use a different or new voting system for a statewide election system.

Cities do not have authority on their own to change their voting system. Cannot be recommended that two different forms of voting occur in the same election. Believes this situation should be prevented. One quarter of Saint Paul's electorate speak another primary language.

Our voting equipment can do a 1st round voting system. We cannot reallocate votes in subsequent rounds. A counting center could do this manually or with different voting equipment. Current equipment allow instant results on our websites in 2008 and 2012.

Replacing the voting equipment, and currently cities and county work together. This becomes a cost issue for both cities and counties. The year 2011 would be the time when most voting equipment in the state would be in need of replacement.

Our election law does not accommodate for RCV.
-maximum round limit for runoff voting
- maximum votes one can cast, permitted to rank all candidates
- procedures for counting
-rules how we can tell voter intent
-how would we conduct a recount

According to the Attorney General, RCV may be unconstitutional in general elections. It does appear as though there may be no constitutional issue with primaries, and RCV could be restricted to these elections. It could also be used in a presidential primary.

Manufacturers understand more demand for RCV and other voting methods. Vendors will not put effort into something they cannot make money on. New generation of voting equipment is needed, but a law is needed to assist us in buying them. Hand-counting is the least accurate form of vote counting in Minnesota.

6) Andy Cilek - Minnesota Voters Alliance ( MNVoters.org )

[ Also seems angry ]

We oppose IRV and RCV - Barbara Johnson [ A corporate-owned DFLer - could easily join the GOP along with Paul Ostrow and Chris Stewart - as Norm Coleman has ] also opposes this.

In Raleigh, they felt it disenfranchised many voters.

Plan to file a legal case against IRV in Minneapolis on December 4th, 2007.

Cannot cast a single choice more than once.

Fatal flaw, voters don't know whether they are helping or hurting their cause.

Senator Sandy Pappas - DFL - Saint Paul - Confused about IRV and normal runoffs.

Andy Cilek also wanted Pappas reprimanded for speaking out of turn.

Gerlach believes votes are not counted fairly. Majority 1st choice voters get a less fair chance.

Gerlach - What value is there a vote in a vote not counted?

Pappas - 3rd Party voters are told their votes are pointless

Gerlach - A vote for Hatch was the same weight per voter as Pawlenty. IRV is a weighted system.

Pappas - Minnesota does not have a runoff election. Only if you have 2 candidates would you have an election where voters can create a majority winning candidate.

7) Fran Hesch - Hopkins - Charter Commission

Volunteer on the Ranked Choice Voting committee

25 page alternative voting taskforce. 6 different voting options were recommended for Hopkins. Supporst alternative voting method choice. Document Hopkins concerns for STV in smaller cities.

1917-1959 Used STV. Hopkins encouraged state of Minnesota to purchase voting equipment that would be STV compatible. IRV is different than STV in multiple seats. IRV could be used for mayor and special elections only,per Hopkins city charter. STV could be used in Hopkins for multiple seats.

Please don't legislate for plurality or STV methods. Minneapolis is the urgent issue and legislation is needed. Any language should not impact a choice of voting methods.

8) Senator John C. Hottinger - Saint Paul

Also volunteering to assist IRV implementation. FairVoteMN.org

2nd Round of counting, you DO count both votes twice. You don't have to come back to the polls again. Voter support for a victor with a majority of the vote. IRV alleviates the concerns of voters. Peter Hutchinson couldn't be voted for because he was outside the two parties, yet he should have been an option instead of seen as a "spoiler."

There will always be discontent over elections. Those who win with less than majority serve as if they were mandated by the voters. 2% of voters turnout for primaries. 2 elections instead of one hurts Democracy.

Minnesotans are frustrated in the way political parties choose their primary candidates.

Pappas - Constitutionality of IRV.

Hottinger - David Schultz from Hamline goes through the Constitutionality of IRV. All votes are counted again during the second round.

Pappas - This is a Minnesota Constitutional issue, not a Federal. How does this voting system work here?

Hottinger - Unsure of how RCV applies to Minnesota Constitution

Link to video podcast:

Real Media Format

Windows Media Format

[ All of my comments in parantheses. These are notes and highly paraphrased. But the primary ideas of each individual are expressed ]

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