In what turned out to be one of the most hotly debated issues on this year’s ballot, Duluthians sent a strong message Tuesday in favor of their current voting system.Voters resoundingly rejected a citywide referendum that called for a shift to a ranked-choice voting system. The city of Duluth’s tally showed 15,564 “no” votes to 5,271 “yes” votes. The ballot initiative, which called for a change in the way Duluth has voted for more than a century, sharply divided local leaders and led to aggressive campaigning by supporters and detractors alike.
Articles about voting issues in Minnesota.
Duluth citizens go to the polls on Nov. 3 to elect city council members and a new mayor. But the hottest race isn’t over a political office. It’s over how future city elections should take place. Duluth voters will decide whether to follow in the footsteps of Minneapolis and St. Paul and adopt ranked-choice voting. Ranked-choice voting lets citizens choose up to three candidates and rank them first, second and third among all the candidates in an election.
Without much organized opposition, supporters have been campaigning to adopt ranked choice voting in Duluth, but on Sunday, a citizen group announced it has launched a formal effort to oppose the ballot measure. Five city councilors announced last week that they opposed ranked choice voting and all are now members of a citizen group against a switch to ranked choice for mayoral and some city council seats. The “Keep Voting Simple — Vote No RCV Campaign” gathered on the Duluth City Hall steps to give remarks and field questions from reporters. Among those speakers, Mayor Don Ness who said, the current voting system is working for the city.
When Andrew Degerstrom was a University of Minnesota student in 2009, he didn’t vote in that year’s elections because he didn’t know they were taking place. He said he probably would have voted if he had been given voter registration information when he moved to Minneapolis. Landlords will soon be required to provide their tenants with voter registration information when they move in under a new ordinance the Minneapolis City Council passed last week. “If this ordinance had been in effect at that time, I would’ve received information on registering to vote when I moved in, and I most likely would have [voted],” said Degerstrom, who is the president of the East Isles Residents Association. Degerstrom testified in support of the ordinance at a council committee meeting earlier this month.
While Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon touted the state’s voter turnout during an address in St. Cloud, he said there are still many barriers that need to be removed to make voting more accessible. Simon spoke Thursday night at the Stearns History Museum at the St. Cloud State Social Studies Fall Social and Constitution Day Celebration. While addressing the crowd of 30 people, Simon gave a nod to how active Minnesotans are in going to the polls. “Over the past several decades we have proven to the nation we are one of the leaders in the country when it comes to voting and what I mean by that is we turn out in big numbers,” Simon said. “I like to say, in Olympics terms, we’re always on the medal stand. We’re almost always gold, silver or bronze.”
In most U.S. states, a typical 16-year-old can drive a car, get married, hold a job and pay taxes on the income they earn from that job. Fifth District Rep. Keith Ellison believes there’s another thing 16-year-olds should be allowed to do: vote. Last week, Ellison tweeted, “I think the voting age should be lowered to 16. What do you think?” It wasn’t the first time he had expressed his view about the voting age; he did so in 2012, also on Twitter. Speaking with MinnPost last week, Ellison says he was inspired to take up the cause a few years ago, recalling a visit with high school students in Minneapolis. “One of the students said to me, ‘How come we can’t vote? We pay sales tax and payroll tax.’ I said, it makes a lot of sense to me. What could go wrong if 16-year-olds could vote? A lot could go right.” Continued visits with high school students have shored up that point of view: Ellison says he is frequently impressed by the knowledge of high school students, adding that they sometimes know more about the issues than adults.
Minnesota: Secretary of State Simon sides with court: no need for ‘ballot selfie’ ban | Pioneer Press
It’s a distinctly 21st Century spin on an age-old practice: excited voters mark up their ballot on Election Day — then pull out a smartphone to take and a picture of their exercise in democracy and post it to social media. These so-called “ballot selfies” are also at the nexus of a legal debate as some states try to curtail the practice but a federal judge defends it. “It’s a fascinating debate,” said Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, the state’s election supervisor. “You really better have a good reason before you clamp down on political speech.” Under Minnesota law, ballot selfies are legal — though showing a ballot to someone else in the polling place is not. If a Minnesota voter shows their ballot to someone else in the polling place, the ballot is supposed to be invalidated. The voter can receive a new ballot unless the ballot display is judged to be “clearly intentional.”
It’s a distinctly 21st-century spin on an age-old practice: Excited voters mark up their ballot on Election Day — then pull out a smartphone to take a picture of their exercise in democracy and post it to social media. These so-called “ballot selfies” are also at the nexus of a legal debate as some states try to curtail the practice while a federal judge defends it. “It’s a fascinating debate,” said Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, the state’s election supervisor. “You really better have a good reason before you clamp down on political speech.”
An organization, called Fair Vote Minnesota, has petitioned throughout Duluth and received more than 1,600 signatures, which was the magic number, and now puts the question of ranked choice voting on the ballot this November. Councilor Joel Sipress believes the term ‘ranked choice voting’ encompasses two different voting systems. The first is called ‘instant runoff voting’ and is the method used in races electing one person, like the Mayor or district councilors. The second, is called ‘single transferable voting,’ a system designed for races electing multiple people at the same time, like the at–large city councilors.
The jury trial for a Wanamingo Township supervisor accused of burning township election ballots in 2014 got underway Tuesday in Goodhue County District Court. Defense attorney Alex Rogosheske said his client, Thomas Joseph Shane, 59, of Zumbrota, admits to destroying the ballots after the March 11 election, but was well-intentioned and acted following the advice of an election judge present that night. Prosecutor Christopher Schrader with the Goodhue County Attorney’s Office said the key question is why Shane allegedly burned the ballots and if he had legal reason to do so.