MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Voters in 35 communities and 113 school districts in Minnesota are casting ballots in municipal elections today. And the most high profile race is the most unpredictable.
There are 35 candidates on the ballot for Minneapolis Mayor and voters will be asked to choose their first second and third place choices.
It’s called ranked-choice voting, and while supporters say it eliminates the need for runoff elections and boosts third party candidates, there is also widespread concern that the system is also boosting voter confusion.
St. Paul also has ranked-choice, but the difference is there are only four candidates on the ballot, including incumbent Chris Coleman, who is facing the most serious challenge from Tim Holden.
Unless one of the 35 Mayoral candidates gets more than 50 percent, which is highly unlikely, we will not know the final results until Wednesday at the earliest.
What we are expected to know sometime by our 10 p.m. news is the results of the first ballot, which will give an indication who might be the next Mayor of Minneapolis.
In a last-minute bid for votes, candidate Betsey Hodges made the kind of appeal that sets this race apart.
“Can I have your first choice vote for Mayor,” she asked one voter.
When he replied he “would do his best,” Hodges said, “If not your first choice, how about your second?” The voter replied, “Yes.”
Second and third place votes will matter if no candidate makes it to 50 percent on the first ballot.
Another top candidate, Don Samuels, says it’s been a tricky campaign.
“It’s actually a little crazy because you are not sure we have to ask people, ‘if I am not your first choice, will you make me your second choice?'” Samuels said.
Voters seemed split on the ranked-choice ballot and the 35 candidates.,
“It’s kind of a search and find mission to find your candidate,” voter Deanna Gulliford said.
“If i look through that ballot if there were ten candidates, it might make more sense for ranked choice voting, but with 35 candidates, it’s a lot to go through,” another voter, Nick Gardino, said.
City election officials say if expected no candidate gets 50 percent on the first ballot, they will begin manually counting the second ballot Wednesday morning.
“We will be manually cutting and pasting cells to allocate votes for each voters first choice,” Anissa Hollingshead Director of Voter outreach for Minneapolis said,
As candidates are eliminated, the cutting and pasting will continue.
“We’ll look at who the second choice on those ballots were and cut and paste those cells to those voters second choice candidates,” Hollingshead said.
In most ranked-choice elections in this country, the candidate that comes in first on that first ballot wins, but the wild card here is the fact that there are so many candidates, so no one knows how that is going to impact the outcome.