Instant Runoff Decision Upheld in Minneapolis

The challenge to a 2006 citizen vote to institute Instant Runnoff Voting in Minneapolis has been overturned. Hennepin County District Judge McGunnigle wrote, “The City of Minneapolis has an important interest in respecting the democratic process, and the citizens of Minneapolis democratically voted for IRV by referendum” and concluded that the plaintiffs “have failed to demonstrate that IRV is either unconstitutional or contrary to public policy.”

FairVote Minnesota attorney James Dorsey said, “The plaintiffs argued everything from denial of equal protection and infringement of the right of association under both the federal and the state constitutions to claims of failure to comply with arcane requirements of the state’s municipal election laws.”

In use in more than a half dozen jurisdictions around the country, IRV is a tested system in which voters rank candidates in order of preference (1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, etc.), ensuring majority winners in single-winner races where there are more than two candidates on the ballot. IRV is seen as a major step to opening up the political dialogue to more diverse voices because voters feel greater permission to vote for an underdog candidate they prefer if they know their vote won’t play against their preferred major party candidate.

Ralph Nader’s 2008 Vice-Presidential running mate, Matt Gonzalez, made IRV a central part of their campaign platform this last year. Vermont Governor Howard Dean came out early in support of IRV, saying it solves a lot of problems, between the costs of a second election and the spoiler question.

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