Hey Minneapolis, still don’t get ranked-choice voting? Here’s a guide

Tuesday will mark the first time ranked-choice voting is used in a Minneapolis election with only non-incumbent mayoral candidates. If you're still confused about ranked-choice, don't worry.  Here's a guide.

How is ranked-choice voting different than other voting?

It combines the primary and the general election into one event.

Voters rank three candidates, in order of preference --- first, second and third choice -- on the ballot. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes, bottom candidates are eliminated and that ballot’s second and third choice votes are redistributed to those candidates.

More than one candidate can be eliminated in the first round if it turns out that even if they got all the second-choice votes, they still wouldn't rise to the level of the candidate with the next most votes above them.

How are candidates eliminated?

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Does ranking two other candidates weaken my first-choice vote?

No. The second and third choice rankings are only used if your first-choice candidate does not have enough votes to continue. Your vote for a candidate stays with that candidate through all the rounds of vote counting until that candidate is defeated. Only then is your vote transferred to your second-choice  and then third-choice candidate.

What happens if I still vote for the same candidate three times?

Your vote will only count once for that candidate. It would be the same as leaving the second and third choices blank. Picking your first choice candidate three times doesn't help their chances of winning.

Does my vote still count if I leave second and third choices blank?

Yes, but you forfeit your vote for second and third choice candidates. You are not required to rank three candidates for each office, but it is an option to allow your votes to continue through all rounds.

Suppose I choose more than one candidate in each column?

That column is skipped in counting. That case is called an “overvote.” To avoid overvotes, the AutoMark ballot marker will guide voters through three columns without allowing more than one vote per column. If more than one vote still takes place per column, the electronic ballot counter will notify the voter.

How do I learn the results on election night?

The most up-to-date results will be posted on the city's elections page or in the Minneapolis City Hall's rotunda information center. You can also get alerts from the Minneapolis elections Twitter feed or Facebook page.

When will winners be announced?

Unofficial winners will be declared on election night if the number of candidates meet or exceed the maximum possible threshold. Elections officials hope to declare a winner in the mayor’s race  on Nov. 6. Tabulation for all races is planned to be complete by Nov. 8.

What does a candidate need to win on election night in round one of the ballot counting?

  • One-seat race:  50 percent plus one of the number of votes for that office

  • Two-seat race:  33.3 percent plus one of the number of votes

  • Three-seat race: 25 percent plus one of the number of votes

Why is this election using ranked-choice voting?

Ranked-choice voting was passed by Minneapolis voters in 2006 as an amendment to the city charter.  It was first used in the city in 2009, but that election featured an incumbent mayor running for re-election. 

How will my ballot look?

Voters can look up a sample ballot here.

Where can I find more information?

The Minneapolis elections website  has videos, handouts, references and translated materials, along with links to the Minnesota Secretary of State website where you can track your absentee ballot, look up voter registration, find your polling place and view a sample ballot. Voter questions can be directed to Minneapolis 311 (612-673-3000) or emailed.