MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s almost time for the people of Minneapolis to choose a leader, ahead of the November election.

Early voting for Mayor and other city races starts at 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 22, at the Early Voting Center on 3rd street. But voting in Minneapolis is different than in most places.

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Instead of voting for one candidate, voters can rank three of them, which may help narrow down the list of 16 mayoral candidates.

When Betsy Hodges became Mayor of Minneapolis four years ago, she was voted in on a rank-choice ballot.

She spoke to Atlantic Magazine about how rank-choice affected the people who voted her in.

“I had clear indication that the message that I was carrying was one that they supported,” Hodges said. “Not only did my initial supporters support that vision, but the people who supported someone else they also liked what I had to say.”

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The way it works is voters can rank their top three choices. If no one gets 50 percent or more of the vote, rankings come into play.

If your No. 1 choice doesn’t make the top three, your No. 2 choice will count, so your vote isn’t wasted.

Professor Larry Jacobs of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota says, “It’s a very clever process for allowing voters to weigh in on elections if their first choice is not a front-runner. Theoretically it should help candidates who are third-party candidates, or candidates who don’t have any money.”

It’s not a very common system. Minnesota is one of a handful of states that has cities that use ranked choice.

“You look at other cities, there’s been a push back. They think it’s complicated, it gets too many candidates involved. Voters have a hard time figuring out the differences,” Schultz said.

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St. Paul is also using the rank-choice system for the first time in their upcoming Mayoral election. Early voting there starts Oct. 31.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield