Letter: Ranked-choice voting is a better system for St. Louis Park

To the editor:

Ranked-choice voting is a straightforward, better way to conduct elections, and I’m glad St. Louis Park is considering it. Why is it better? If more than two candidates run in an election, you, the voter, rank your candidate choices by preference. If no majority winner emerges once ballots are counted, your rankings are used to determine a winner with the most voter support.

It works like this: The candidate in last place is eliminated from the race. If that candidate was your first choice, those votes go to your second-ranked choice. All ballots are tallied again in the next round. If your second choice is eliminated and still no majority winner emerges, your third choice receives your vote next round. In most circumstances, this continues until one candidate wins more than 50 percent of continuing ballots. This process encourages candidates to appeal to more voters, which promotes more cooperation, communication and collaboration.

In St. Louis Park’s recent Ward 1 primary, no candidate received a majority vote. Because the city is eliminating the primary (because they attract too few voters), the results would be similar in November without ranked-choice voting. Ranked-choice voting would prevent vote splitting and ensure winning candidates receive the broadest possible support in general elections.

When does it begin to matter? Let’s say that without ranked-choice voting, two of three candidates are very similar; let’s call them vanilla and strawberry. Let’s say the third candidate is pistachio. Vanilla receives 34 percent, strawberry 29 percent and pistachio 37 percent. Even though vanilla and strawberry have collectively won 63 percent, pistachio wins with just 37 percent. This won’t happen with ranked-choice voting because the process ensures that the candidate with the most support in the final round wins.

Under ranked-choice voting, vanilla would be eliminated and her votes reallocated to strawberry and pistachio based on the second choices on vanilla’s ballots. Whoever received the most votes in the second round would win. It is thus more reflective of the real will of the people.

Kathilyn Solomon

St. Louis Park