Ranked Choice Voting: It's Coming


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How will the Vote be Counted?

11/02/2009

The counting procedures work differently under a ranked choice voting election. On election night, ballot counting machines will be used to provide unofficial first round results. A hand count will be required in all races to obtain the official results. Beginning the day after the election, City Elections staff must conduct several administrative procedures before a hand count can begin. Then the hand-counting of each of the 22 offices on the ballot can begin.

In Minneapolis, Ranked Choice Voting will use the voting and counting method known as Single Transferable Vote for single seat offices as well as multiple seat offices.

For single seat offices (Mayor, City Council Members, and Park Board District Commissioners)

All the ballots are sorted and counted, and the first choice votes are tallied. If no candidate receives the required number of votes to win, the winner is selected through a series of rounds. First, candidates who received the lowest number of votes are eliminated. Next, voters who cast votes for eliminated candidates will have their votes redistributed to their next choice.

For single seat offices, a candidate who receives 50% of the vote plus one vote is elected. If there are only two candidates left and neither has 50% plus one, the candidate with the most votes is elected.

HERE IS AN EXAMPLE


In a race where 3,000 votes are cast, the winning threshold is 1,501 votes (3000/2 + 1 vote)

Round 1: The total first choice votes are counted and none of the candidates have received a majority of the votes cast.

Round 2: Since no candidate reached the threshold, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and votes for this candidate are redistributed based on the voters’ second choices. That means that candidate Wirth is eliminated and 250 of his votes are redistributed to candidate Matthews and another 250 to candidate North Commons. Again, none of the candidates have received a majority of votes, and we move to the next round.

Round 3: Candidate Matthews has the fewest number of votes and is eliminated. All 950 of candidate Matthews’ votes are redistributed to the next choice on those ballots, candidate North Commons. Now candidate North Commons has received a majority of votes cast and is the winner.

For multiple seat offices (two seats for Board of Estimate and Taxation At-Large, and three seats for Park Board At-Large ), 

Multiple seat races work a little differently.  

All the ballots are sorted and counted, and the first choice votes are tallied. Any candidate who reaches the winning threshold is elected. If all of the seats are not filled, all candidates who have no mathematical chance of winning are eliminated. Votes for the eliminated candidates are then redistributed to the voters’ next choices. Then, if all the seats are still not filled, the election judges take the surplus votes of the candidate who has the largest number of surplus votes and redistributes those votes to the next choice candidate on those ballots.

These “surplus” votes are allocated proportionately to the remaining candidates according to the voters’ next choices. That proportion is calculated by dividing the number of surplus votes the winning candidate received by the total votes for the winning candidate. If all the seats are still not filled after the surplus votes have been redistributed, the process of eliminating candidates who have the lowest number of votes is repeated.

This process continues until all the seats are filled.

For Board of Estimate and Taxation, an election for 2 seats, a candidate who receives 33% of the vote plus one vote is elected.

For Park Board At-Large, an election for 3 seats, a candidate who receives 25% of the vote plus one vote is elected.


In a race where 4000 votes are cast, the winning threshold for this election for 3 seats is 1,001 votes (4,000/4 + 1 vote)

Round 1 The total first-choice votes are counted and Lake Nokomis wins in the first round. There are still two more seats that need to be filled.

Round 2 Next we eliminate the candidate who has no mathematical chance of being elected. Candidate Brownie Lake is mathematically eliminated because it is impossible for him to get more votes than the next higher candidate. The votes for Brownie Lake are then redistributed to Lake Calhoun and Lake Hiawatha based on the second choice on Brownie Lake’s ballots. Now Lake Hiawatha has enough votes to win and only one seat is left to fill.

Round 3 Now we take the surplus votes of the candidate who has the largest number of surplus votes and redistribute those votes to the next choice candidate on those ballots. Both Lake Nokomis and Lake Hiawatha have a surplus because they both have more than 1,001 votes. In this case, Lake Nokomis has the largest surplus, with 299 more votes than needed to win. These surplus votes are proportionally redistributed to remaining candidates based on the next choice on Lake Nokomis’ ballots

Lake Nokomis received 23 percent (299/1300) more votes than needed to win, so 23 percent of each ballot cast for Lake Nokomis is redistributed to the next choice on that candidate’s ballots. When the votes are redistributed, Lake Calhoun goes over the threshold and all three seats have been filled. Lake Nokomis, Lake Hiawatha, and Lake Calhoun are the three winners.

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Comments

Assuming many voters will only vote for their top choice and not vote for a second or third choice, couldn't it be very possible that after redistribution of votes, no candidate reaches the winning threshold? Along these lines, I don't understand, for example, in the Single Seat Office, Round 3 example above, how "all 950 of candidate Matthew's votes are redistributed..." Is this accurate? If so, how do you know where to redistribute the votes if some voters have not ranked a second and/or third choice candidate? Thanks for the clarification!

I'm also wondering why in the first example, no votes were redistributed to Pershing . . . isn't it likely that Pershing received at least SOME 2nd and 3rd choice votes? It would have been helpful if the examples showed the number of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place votes for each candidate before redistribution. That is the situation we are actually looking at now as we wait.

Also, it might have been helpful to explain how "all candidates who have no mathematical chance of winning are eliminated" is actually determined. I'm guessing that means that anyone whose 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place totals would still put them below threshold is eliminated . . . but I'm not actually sure how this is determined and by whom (each district/ward or overall?).

In the Minneapolis council race for the Samuels seat, not only the lowest vote count was thrown out after the first round, but other candidates were rejected as well. This is not what is described above. What gives?

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