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Mpls. Voters To Meet New Voting Method And Longest Ballot In City History

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Tuesday is Election Day across Minnesota. Voters will go to the polls to elect mayors and city councils and vote on school referenda.

But all eyes are on Minneapolis, where voters must select a mayor from the largest group of candidates in city history. They’ll use a new voting method called ranked-choice voting.

There are nearly three dozen candidates for mayor of Minneapolis. There are also new voting machines, and a new way to vote: You don’t pick just one candidate, you pick three.

A steady flow of early absentee voters were at City Hall on Monday.

The 35 candidates for mayor did not deter the voters, who took about three or four minutes to work through the longest ballot in city history.

Reggie Prim’s advice is: Know who you’re voting for before you go to the polls. And don’t overthink it.

“Don’t think about chess moves,” he said. “It’s like if you go to a restaurant and someone says, ‘Ok, do you want steak or shrimp?’ Well, if you don’t have the steak, I’ll take the shrimp. It’s as simple as that.”

The Minneapolis Elections and Voter Services Office is working overtime explaining how ranked-choice voting works.

City election officials say they mailed ranked-choice voting information to every household in the city.

Because of the new system, some polling places might be slower than normal.

And they don’t expect to know all the winners on election night.

“Instant runoff is about the easiest way I can explain,” said Grace Wachlarowicz, the Minneapolis elections director. “If we do not have a definitive winner on election night, then we will go through rounds the following day.”

The ballot looks daunting. There are 35 candidates for mayor; but when you choose your number one, two and three, there are 105 choices.

And St. Paul is also electing a mayor Tuesday, but the ballot is much shorter.

A lot of election analysts, including outgoing Mayor R.T. Rybak, think one of the biggest reasons for the large number of Minneapolis mayoral candidates is the filing fee.

In St. Paul, it costs $500 to run for mayor. In Minneapolis, it’s $20.

You can expect that will be addressed before the next election.

For more on ranked-choice voting, see Angela Davis’ explainer story here.

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