Ranked-choice voting (RCV) allows you to rank multiple candidates in order of preference. This voting method combines the primary and general election into one event. Simply put, you have the chance to say, “If my first choice candidate is not elected, this is my second choice (or third choice) for who I would like to see elected.”
How are votes counted?
After the polls have closed on election night, all first-choice votes are counted and reported to the public, similar to what happens in all other elections.
If a candidate reaches the threshold (50 percent plus one of total votes cast for that office) with first-choice votes, they will be declared the winner of that race. No more counting is needed.
If no candidate reaches the threshold with first-choice votes and more than two candidates are running for that office, the ranked-choice voting process kicks in and round-by-round counting will begin the day following the election.
The next round of counting begins by eliminating all candidates with no mathematical possibility of winning. Votes for the eliminated candidates are transferred to the next ranked candidate (second or third choice) on those ballots. Votes are then recounted.
If no candidate reaches the threshold, the process is repeated until either:
One candidate reaches the established threshold of 50 percent plus one of the total votes cast for the office and is declared the winner.
Only two candidates remain. The candidate receiving the most votes is declared the winner.
How do I show my choices on my ballot?
You may rank up to three different candidates for each city office (mayor and council member) on the ballot. The front side of each ballot will have three columns (first, second and third choice) for each office, listing every candidate. You will complete the ballot from left to right, indicating your first choice for each race by filling in the oval next to the candidate’s name in the first-choice column. If you wish to rank second and/or third choices, you will select them in the corresponding second and third columns on the ballot.
How is a candidate elected using ranked-choice voting?
A candidate is declared the winner of a race when they either:
A — Reach an established threshold of 50 percent plus one of the total votes cast for that office. OR
B — Only two candidates remain. The candidate with the most votes wins.
Is the voting process different in a ranked-choice election?
In many ways, voting will be the same as other elections. You will use a paper ballot, fill in ovals next to your choices and place the ballot into a machine to be counted. The main differences in a ranked-choice election are the elimination of the primary election in August, and a ballot design that allows you to rank up to three choices for each city office (mayor and council member).
How many candidates can I rank?
You will be allowed to rank up to three choices for the 2019 municipal election (mayor and council member) in St. Louis Park.
Is there a benefit to ranking choices?
You have the option to rank your choices for each city office (mayor and council member). You are not required to rank. Others who have used the system believe that having the option to rank their choices allows them more opportunity to have their voice heard. Voters who choose to rank essentially have the chance to say, “If my first choice is not elected, this is the next candidate I would like to see elected.”
Will the ballot counter tell me if I make an error on my ballot?
The ballot counter will alert you if you overvote in a race or submit a completely blank ballot. You may choose if you would like to cast your ballot as marked or discard your ballot and receive a new one to fix any mistakes. The ballot counter will not alert you if you skip rankings or vote for the same candidate at multiple rankings.
Does my vote count if I only rank one choice?
Yes. You are not required to rank your choices and can choose to vote for only one candidate. You are allowed to rank up to three choices per office.
Does my vote count if I rank the same candidate for each choice?
Yes. However, votes will count one time for that candidate. Ranking the same candidate for all three choices will not increase their chance of winning. It’s generally considered the same as leaving two of the choices blank.
Does my vote count if I skip a ranking or leave one of the choices blank?
Yes. All valid votes cast on a ballot will be counted. Skipping a ranking or choosing not to vote for a particular office on the ballot is called an undervote. You are allowed to rank up to three choices for each city office (mayor and council member) and may vote for each office that appears on your ballot. Similar to what happens now, you can choose to vote for as many or as few of the offices on the ballot as you choose.
Does my vote count if I rank multiple candidates for their first choice?
No. This is an overvote, and the first-choice vote will not be counted. If this happens, you can discard your ballot and receive a new ballot to correct the error.
If I rank three choices, do three votes get counted?
No. Each voter only gets one vote counted. If a winner can be declared after all first-choice votes are counted, the second and third choice votes are never counted. If a candidate is eliminated, all votes for that candidate are transferred to the next highest candidate chosen on those ballots.
What will be done to ensure my votes are secure and accurately counted?
As in all other elections, city staff work with county and state officials to ensure accurate and secure counting procedures. The city is subject to all election laws related to equipment testing, tabulation and post-election review. The city’s rules governing the administration of elections have built-in measures to verify that the ranked-choice system correctly counts each vote. The city will also produce results with detailed round-by-round election abstracts, which will be available to the public and reviewed by the city council prior to the canvassing of election results. Additionally, accuracy testing of city voting equipment and the tabulation process are open to the public.
Why did the city council approve ranked-choice voting?
The St. Louis Park City Council voted unanimously to approve the use of ranked-choice voting for elections for city offices in an effort to continue to advance racial equity and inclusion, promote civic engagement and provide an opportunity for all voices in St. Louis Park to be heard.
In St. Louis Park, which offices will be elected using ranked-choice voting?
In St. Louis Park, ranked-choice voting may only be used to elect the offices of mayor and council member. Under current state law, ranked-choice voting cannot be used to elect any federal, state, county or school district offices.
Will ranked-choice voting be used to elect school board members?
No. By law, the school district does not have the option to use ranked-choice voting. You will use the traditional voting system for school district races. In St. Louis Park, because the school district also holds elections in odd-numbered years, you will see city offices on one side of the ballot using ranked-choice voting. The other side of the ballot will contain races for school board offices using the traditional voting method. Each side of the ballot will be clearly marked with its own voting instructions.
Will ranked-choice voting be used to elect the president and vice president?
No. You will not use ranked-choice voting to elect the president and vice president. By law, ranked-choice voting can't be used for federal offices.
Do other cities use ranked-choice voting?
The City of Minneapolis has used ranked-choice voting since 2009, and the City of St. Paul since 2011. Both cities have successfully used ranked-choice voting to elect mayors and city council members. Nationally, different variations of ranked-choice voting are used in San Francisco, CA and Maine.