Use instant runoff voting in Minnesota

Last week, the Minnesota House Government Operations Committee passed a bill allowing Roseville, Minn., the chance to use instant runoff voting for an upcoming City Council election. Currently, only Roseville is testing the system. To get a true sense of instant runoff voting’s impact, more cities should be allowed the option. Instant runoff voting is long overdue in Minnesota, and we should speed up its evaluation.

It is a great discredit to U.S. politics that instant runoff voting has not been implemented already – it is simply another name for ranked ballots where voters choose first, second and third choices, and candidates are eliminated until there is a clear majority.

If you want to vote for one candidate, you only have to rank one candidate. Hawaii already uses instant runoff voting for all state offices. Australia uses it for national elections. The system appears to have few negatives.

The positives, however, are numerous. Instant runoff voting ensures the top candidate will have more than 50 percent of the vote. The “spoiler effect” would largely be eliminated, meaning voters could vote for the person that best represents their interests without “wasting” their votes on more “electable” candidates.

Voter turnout could increase. Campaigns might be less nasty as candidates vie for potential second-place votes. Money could also have less impact on elections.

The only thing holding back instant runoff voting is that the entrenched Republican and Democratic parties genuinely fear processes that encourage more people to vote, making it harder to maintain a stranglehold of power. Instant runoff voting better expresses the will of the voters and ensures the mechanics of democracy are democratic. Majority rules would hold true. Instant runoff voting is an obvious remedy to many ills in U.S. democracy. It’s time Minnesota takes that step.