Ranked-choice Voting FAQs

What is ranked-choice voting?

Sometimes referred to as “instant runoff voting” or “preferential voting,” ranked-choice voting is a process that allows voters to rank their choices for each office. 

First choice votes are counted. If no candidate has a majority of the votes (more than 50%), the candidate with the least number of first-choice votes is eliminated. Voters who picked the eliminated candidate as their first choice have their second-choice vote counted instead. This process repeats until one candidate has a majority.

Where is ranked-choice voting currently used?

In Minnesota, the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul and St. Louis Park currently use ranked-choice voting for municipal elections. It is also used in various other jurisdictions around the country.

Why is this question on the ballot?

Chapter 4 of the Bloomington City Charter governs how municipal elections are conducted. In order to adopt ranked-choice voting, this chapter of the City Charter would need to be amended.

While there are multiple methods for amending the City Charter, the City Council decided that a change related to how municipal elections are conducted should be decided by the voters. Therefore, the Council initiated the process to bring forward a ballot question to determine whether voters wish to amend the City Charter to adopt ranked-choice voting.

The City Council held a public hearing on the issue at its May 18, 2020 meeting and then unanimously forwarded the proposed ballot question to the City’s Charter Commission, where another public hearing was held on June 11, 2020. On July 18, the Charter Commission voted to reject the proposed amendment to the City Charter by a vote of 6-5. However, the Charter Commission’s action is only advisory to the City Council. On July 27, the City Council voted to proceed with placing the question on the ballot for the November 3, 2020 General Election.

What is the ballot question?

The ballot question reads:

CITY QUESTION 3
ELECTING MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL BY RANKED-CHOICE VOTING

Should the Bloomington City Charter be amended to elect the Mayor and City Council members by the Ranked Choice Voting method? 

YES______________ 
NO_______________ 

What does it take for the ballot question to pass?

The ballot question will pass, and the City Charter will be amended, if at least 51% of the votes are in favor (vote “yes”) on this ballot question.  

If the ballot question passes, when would ranked-choice voting be used?

If the ballot question passes, ranked-choice voting would be used for municipal elections, starting in November 2021.

Any switch to ranked-choice voting would be for municipal elections only. Ranked-choice voting cannot be used for federal, state, county or school board elections.

What would happen if the ballot question passes?

If the ballot question passes, the City Charter would be amended and ranked-choice voting would be used to elect the Mayor and City Council members, beginning in 2021. The City would no longer hold a Primary Election in August of odd-numbered years, as all eligible candidates who file for office would appear on the General Election ballot.

What would happen if the ballot question does not pass?

If the ballot question does not pass, elections for Mayor and City Council members would continue as they are today, with voters selecting one candidate for each office and the candidate with the most votes winning. The City would continue to hold a Primary Election in August of each odd-numbered year to narrow the field of candidates to two for each office. Those two candidates would advance to the General Election, as is the case currently.
The City’s existing election equipment, including ballot counters, are compatible with ranked-choice voting and would not have to be replaced if the ballot question passes.

Bloomington Public Schools (BPS) also holds elections in the odd-numbered years. What impact would there be on BPS if the City adopts ranked-choice voting?

If the City adopts ranked-choice voting for municipal offices, there would be no impact on Bloomington Public Schools or the election of School Board members. School Board seats would continue to be on the ballot for the General Election in November of odd-numbered years and would continue to use single-choice plurality voting, as is used today.  (Ranked-choice voting may be used only for municipal elections.  State law does not allow its use for federal, state, county or school board elections.) 

The School District does not currently hold a Primary Election for School Board seats, therefore the elimination of the Primary in odd-numbered years would have no impact on the District.