New voting system runs smoothly on Election Day

Instant-runoff voting, approved by a 2006 referendum, debuted in Minneapolis while St. Paul voted to implement the system.

James Nord

The implementation of an instant-runoff voting system in Minneapolis had little effect on the municipal elections. Voter turnout was âÄúlight-to-typical,âÄù interim Minneapolis Elections Director Pat OâÄôConnor said. A small number of students were turned away at the University Lutheran Church of Hope on 13th Avenue for not having proper identification, but few problems were reported otherwise. There were mixed opinions about the effectiveness of instant-runoff voting. âÄúI think it would be cheaper to buy the machine than to pay the person who has to sit there and count all those hours,âÄù resident Emily Quinlan said. However, OâÄôConnor said that the cost would be similar to a traditional election. âÄúI definitely support [IRV] and I think itâÄôll be nationwide in four years,âÄù Marcy-Holmes resident William Wells said. âÄúItâÄôs a guess.âÄù In St. Paul, voters decided to follow in the footsteps of Minneapolis, passing a plan to implement the system by a slim margin. âÄúItâÄôs been total elation,âÄù Ellen Brown, a St. Paul IRV supporter said. Frank Pichler, a student at the University of Minnesota, said IRV is a step in the right direction by veering away from a two-party system. Gophers men’s basketball head coach Tubby Smith, who showed up to vote in his precinct in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood, also weighed in on IRV. âÄúWe have a game Thursday night so weâÄôre ranking who the best players are and in what position,âÄù he said. âÄúI think a lot of people go through that when they vote. ItâÄôs interesting. ItâÄôs a different way of doing things.âÄù OâÄôConnor said much of the feedback he received through the day was positive. âÄúWeâÄôre also getting feedback that a lot of people are choosing not to rank candidates and that they have just one choice and thatâÄôs it, and that of course is their prerogative,âÄù he said. A few voters had concerns about the five- to eight-week delay before final results can be announced. âÄúI donâÄôt think the delay is as severe as they are predicting,âÄù Wells said. âÄúI think they are being overly cautious. I think weâÄôll have the results within 30 days.âÄù Charles Thorson, a political science major at the University, felt the city could have done a better job of notifying residents of the new voting system. âÄúIt really sprang up on us at the last moment,âÄù Thorson said. Wells said the city did what it could given budget cuts and other problems. âÄúItâÄôs going to be interesting to see how much resources this will take up,âÄù Wells said. âÄúThatâÄôs what everyone is going to ask âÄî how much money is this going to cost, did it cost more than a regular election?âÄù