MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Top election officials in Minneapolis and St. Paul say they are ready for Election Day Tuesday — but if you’re planning any election watch parties, you may want to hold off.
Both cities say the results of elections will be delayed because of ranked choice voting. St. Paul may not be able to announce the winner of the mayoral race until Saturday night — because they’re counting all the ballots by hand.
While Minneapolis is only asking voters to rank their first, second and third choice, St. Paul is asking voters to rank their choices all the way down to sixth.
At Ramsey County’s early voting center in St. Paul, the turnout was slow and steady. Voters say while they could have chosen up to six choices for mayor, most did not. Voter Carol Dreier says she only chose three.
“I had known who the candidates were and read some of their literature, so I knew who I wanted to vote for and in what order,” she said.
St. Paul regulations require a hand count for ranked choice voting.
“We are anticipating that there will be no majority winner [Tuesday], and if that is the case, then we are prepared at 8:30 Thursday morning to begin counting the ballots by hand,” Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky said.
Mansky says he thinks it could take until Saturday night to get all St. Paul results — which has even fans of ranked choice a little cranky.
“I am not happy that it’s going to take days to find out who won,” Dreier said.
As for Minneapolis, results should be quicker. The city is using some automation in their count, so they are predicting they will have results within 24 hours of the polls closing.
Minneapolis early voting has been especially brisk, with 10,000 voters expected to cast their ballots before polls open at 7 a.m. on Election Day. That’s more than double the number of early voters from four years ago.
As for how candidates are feeling about ranked choice, mayoral candidate Tim Holden says it still has its advantages.
“I think its wonderful,” he said. “It’s a good way to give people different options.”
Like it or not, it’s the system both cities have. But because of ranked choice — and because there are so many candidates — there really has been no external polling in either of the mayoral elections. That means it’s still not clear which candidates have an edge.