Letter: Ranked choice voting needs consideration

Published 8:30 pm Friday, June 17, 2022

The special election on Aug. 9 (early voting begins on June 24) to elect a member of Congress to Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District is the poster child for why we need ranked choice voting. We had 10 Republicans competing against each other on the primary ballot. Brad Finstad won with only 13,695 votes and less than 39% of the vote. In the 2020 general election, Hagedorn received over 179K votes. Based on that number, we know that 0.07% of Republicans in southern Minnesota picked Finstad to be their candidate.

This split-vote result was compounded by the timing of this special primary election in late May — when most voters are not tuned in. There is typically a much lower turnout for primaries, meaning the election result will be determined largely by each party’s activist base.

Ranked choice voting assures that the winner has broader support within their respective party. How? It allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate earns majority support outright — which is unlikely in a field of 8-10 candidates — then the candidate with the least support is eliminated, and those ballots transfer to those voters’ second choices. This instant runoff continues until one candidate reaches a majority and wins.  

Ranked choice voting results in candidates who have wider support within their own party to win. Of course, this process should not only be used in the primary, but also in the general election. In the general election, ranked choice voting would eliminate the spoiler dynamic where the presence of multiple parties can often result in the winning candidate securing well less than majority support. Ranked choice voting is an election reform that merits serious consideration.

Howard Kruger

Winona

formerly of London