As Absentee Voting Begins
I'm delighted St. Paul is a Ranked Choice Voting city. As absentee voting begins, I'm mindful of a really important reason to be thankful for it.
Under the old plurality system, we had two consecutive elections: a primary with pitiful participation followed by the November general election. Voters either went to the polls twice -- or, if they were voting absentee from out of the country, had to worry that time and postal constraints might prevent their vote from being counted.
RCV combines the two elections into one, allowing all voters to choose and rank their favorites from one larger pool. Everybody has the same easy access to full participation. Regardless of their voter status, everyone has to vote one time only. Moreover, everyone gets to choose from a more diverse pool of candidates, rather than one that has been constricted by a tiny group of primary voters.
To those who have worried that RCV would be too complicated, it's important to note that the first few RCV elections in both St. Paul and Minneapolis proceeded absolutely smoothly. Despite concerns that voters (especially seniors like me) wouldn't "get" it, the concept of ranking one's first choice, second choice, third choice, etc., proved to be a piece of cake. Data from both cities in 2013 showed that voters of all demographics found ranking simple, liked doing it and want to keep the option.
In fact, it seems clear that going forward, it should be the method of choice for statewide and national elections.
Whether you're voting absentee or in person Nov. 3, fellow St. Paulites -- especially in Wards 2, 5 and 6 with three or more candidates -- remember to be a savvy voter and rank your choices!
Irving Lerner, St. Paul