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Politics

Esme’s Blog: Ranking Ranked-Choice Voting

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS) Esme Murphy
Esme Murphy, a reporter and Sunday morning anchor for WCCO-TV, h...
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One: It was confusing.

Two: It took far longer to count the ballots than supporters said it would.

Three: It was a fix for a system that wasn’t broken.

That is my ballot. What’s yours?

What will be the final cost of the overtime and the special Florida consultants who were brought in to oversee the extravaganza?

Ranked choice backers insist the slow count in the race for Minneapolis mayor was due not to ranked choice, but the low filing fee that brought 35 candidates into the race, in addition to rules that made it difficult to automatically eliminate candidates with low ballot numbers.

Mayor-elect Betsy Hodges is still not at that hallowed 50 percent mark that ranked choice supporters say would be achieved. Hodges has 48.95 percent at the time this blog was posted.

Ranked-choice supporters say their system eliminates negative campaigning. And it does. Candidates can not afford to alienate another candidates’ backers because they need those second place votes.

But I would argue the result is a false positive, the impression that the candidates are all on the same or similar pages. Candidates withheld drawing sharp contrasts or critiques of one another that would have been helpful to voters.

It was Minnesota Nice at its worst — a frozen veneer of civility, when in a “normal” election the gloves would have been off. Give me the no holds barred sparring of a real election. And please give me the results straight up.

Certainly even a “normal” Minnesota election can be ugly. The Coleman-Franken 2008 Senate race wins first place in that category.

But here is a thought: what would have happened if this ranked-choice mayor’s election had been really close? What if a recount would have been needed? Reporters would still be sitting at the rotunda in city hall watching the two sets of vote counters via a video stream from the city hall basement.

We would probably be sitting there for months.

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