IRV group fined for election law violation

The group that successfully campaigned for instant runoff voting in St. Paul has been fined $5,000 for violating election laws.

The St. Paul Better Ballot Campaign claimed in fliers that it had been endorsed by President Barack Obama, Sen. John McCain, the DFL Party and the League of Women Voters. But an administrative law court found those people and groups had not formally endorsed the campaign.

Ellen Brown, who led the Better Ballot Campaign, says her group wasn't trying to mislead voters.

"It was really a technicality of, do they support the concept of instant runoff voting, or do they endorse the particular ballot initiative in St. Paul," said Brown. "We apologize for having done that if people did feel misled."

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Brown says her group has not decided whether to appeal the fine. St. Paul will begin using instant runoff voting for city elections starting in 2011.

IRV opponent Chuck Repke says he's happy about the fine, and says he'll fight to repeal IRV after 2011.

"We'll have to suffer through it once in St. Paul before you'll be able to stimulate the voters to do it," said Repke. "So, I don't see myself doing anything until the voters have suffered through it once."

Minneapolis has also switched to instant runoff voting for city elections. The system is also called ranked choice voting, because voters rank the candidates for each office in order of preference.