Voices & Choices

Minnesota municipal elections show positive outcomes with ranked choice voting

Minnesota municipal elections show positive outcomes with ranked choice voting

On November 7, cities that used ranked choice voting (RCV) in Minnesota reported positive feedback on the role RCV played in the election. City leaders credit the voting system with bringing about increased voter participation.

In fact on Election Day, Minneapolis experienced the highest voter turnout rate in two decades, necessitating the need for election officials to order additional ballots for those still waiting in line. This is the third election in which Minnesota’s mayoral races were conducted using ranked choice voting, and turnout reached about 43 percent. This is an increase of 10 percent from 2013. “That’s a really good turnout,” said City Clerk Casey Carl.

Minneapolis incumbent mayor Betsy Hodges faced City Council Member Jacob Frey and Public Housing Director Tom Hoch. After five rounds of tabulation, Frey emerged with a majority and was declared the winner. In the video above, Frey speaks to the positive impact of ranked choice voting.

Additionally, the first African American transgender woman, Andrea Jenkins, was elected to the Minneapolis City Council. Jenkins won with about 73 percent of the vote in Minneapolis’s Eighth Ward.

St. Paul also reported increased voter turnout with more than 61,000 voters casting ballots, representing an excess of 40 percent of the city’s registered voters. In a field of 10 candidates, Executive Director of Minnesota Children’s Cabinet, Melvin Carter was elected as the city’s first African-American mayor, receiving a  majority of the vote in the first round.

“This is the honor of a lifetime,” Carter said. “Being able to carry a majority of the first choice votes says to me loud and clear that St. Paul is a city ready for change.”

This election demonstrated the positive ways candidates can engage with other candidates and voters. Overall, candidates in the mayoral and city council races ran civil, issue-oriented campaigns. Candidates were able to build a coalition with voters, reaching out for their second and third choice votes. Negative campaigning is counter-productive under a ranked choice voting system because candidates need to appeal to a broad base of voters. This tends to lead to increased voter participation.

Voters in St. Paul and Minneapolis were able to go to the polls with a variety of choices, and not worry if their vote is being wasted. RCV also allowed voters to select the candidate they truly want without fear of splitting the vote. Both candidates and officials had a chance to evaluate the impact of ranked choice voting in the past election and most said the system really worked well because voters understood it.

Several candidates had many positive things to say about the impact of ranked choice voting. Candidates also agreed that it made them run their campaigns differently because they were competing for a voter’s second choice. Check out the video below.


Minneapolis has ranked choice voting since 2009 and St. Paul since 2011.

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