Midway between Minneapolis city elections, it’s looking more doubtful that the city will have new equipment in place for 2013 balloting to avoid another lengthy hand count of voter choices under ranked-choice voting. In 2009, it took 18 days after the election and lots more money for the last winner to be declared after a hand count of second-choice ballots determined the outcome.
Hennepin County’s election director said she hopes the county can buy new voting equipment in late 2012 or early 2013. Asked how optimistic she was that such equipment could count the ranked-choice ballots, Rachel Smith responded, “It’s certainly possible. … I’m still optimistic that we’ll have something in place for Minneapolis.”
But she conceded that system may not automate all of the counting required under ranked-choice when the first choices of voters don’t generate a winner. In Ramsey County, which runs St. Paul elections, election manager Joe Mansky said he doubts Minneapolis will have machines in place for 2013 that could count ranked choices automatically.
“I’m not sure there is enough time to get from where they are to where they need to be,” Mansky said after recently finishing St. Paul’s only hand-counted race in one day. He’s recommending against automating the counting of ranked votes in St. Paul, partly because he feels a manual count is more transparent to candidates and the public.