How to: Election Day 2013

by Alexi Gusso

When the polls close at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Minneapolis officials will begin counting ranked-choice votes to decide the next wave of city government leaders.

Thirty-five candidates are vying to replace outgoing Mayor R.T. Rybak, who has led the city since 2001. The majority of the 13 open City Council positions are also hotly contested, including the two wards that include the University of Minnesota.

The Minnesota Daily will cover voting throughout the day and the mayoral and City Council races.

At the polls

Voters will rank their top three mayoral candidates and also rank candidates running for Minneapolis City Council, the Parks and Recreation Board and the Board of Estimate and Taxation.

The lists of candidates running for each open position will appear under three columns, and voters can indicate their first, second and third choices.

Voters can pick up instructions for filling out the ballots as they enter their polling places, and election judges will be on hand to answer questions.

City officials will begin counting ballots starting with voters’ first choices. If a candidate doesn’t receive a majority in the first round of counting, the least-popular candidate in that race will be eliminated, and the process will repeat over the following days until a candidate gets a majority of votes.

The ballots that list the eliminated candidate as their top choice will count as votes for the candidates who those voters listed as their second choice. If the second choice is eliminated in that round, the third choice will then be counted in the next round.

Because there’s no clear front-runner for mayor, this is the first time the city will likely have to test the ranked-choice counting system for that race.

Minneapolis adopted the ranked-choice voting system in 2006 and first used it in the 2009 election.

At that time, Rybak faced fewer than a dozen challengers and won with more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round of counting. The city didn’t have to enact the ranked-choice tabulation method.

The Minnesota Secretary of State’s website will post initial results as they become available Tuesday evening. Official winners from all of the races are planned to be announced by Friday at the latest.

What’s on the ballot?

Four of the Minneapolis City Council’s 13 seats are open to new members, and seven of the remaining nine are competitive races.

In Ward 3, which encompasses parts of Northeast Minneapolis, downtown, Dinkytown and Marcy-Holmes, two-term DFL incumbent Diane Hofstede is facing a tough re-election bid against DFL-endorsed attorney Jacob Frey.

Libertarian candidate Michael Katch and Green Party candidate Kristina Gronquist are also looking to represent Ward 3, but their campaigns haven’t been as active as Hofstede’s and Frey’s.

In Ward 2, which covers parts of the University and the surrounding Prospect Park and Cedar-Riverside neighborhoods, incumbent Cam Gordon is running against socialist candidate Diana Newberry, who hasn’t been actively campaigning.

Four current City Council members are resigning, leaving the seats open to new faces. In Wards 7 and 8, the incumbents are running unopposed.

In St. Paul, three candidates are vying to replace two-term incumbent Mayor Chris Coleman, but with few resources and weak campaigns, Sharon Anderson, Tim Holden and Kurt Dornfeld aren’t serious challengers.

St. Paul will also use the ranked-choice voting system, and voters can rank up to six candidates for mayor and City Council.