Tuesday’s polls in St. Paul and Minneapolis drew both fans and skeptics of ranked-choice voting — but relatively little confusion despite long candidate slates. The votes, though, did not produce clear winners Tuesday evening in the St. Paul Ward 1 city council race, the Minneapolis mayor race and in three of 13 city council wards in that city. Under the ranked-choice system, only candidates who garner more than 50 percent of first-choice votes emerge as clear-cut victors. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman handily won re-election. For both cities, it was the second go-around with the system, in which voters rank candidates rather than casting a ballot just for their top choices. St. Paul voters elected city council candidates with ranked ballots in 2011. Minneapolis used the system in the 2009 re-election of Mayor R.T. Rybak. At some polling sites, election officials said practice — along with typically light off-year election turnout — made for a smooth process. “We explain ranked choice to those that don’t get it,” said Julia New-Landrum, an election judge in St. Paul’s Ward 1. “Just about 90 percent of people know what it is.”
St. Paul voters had their pick of four candidates for mayor and seven for a Ward 1 city council seat, where results were expected later this week. The Minneapolis ballot featured 35 candidates to replace Rybak, with city council member Betsy Hodges taking a decisive — but still below the 50 percent plus 1 vote needed — lead Tuesday.
Ramsey County Elections Director Joe Mansky said about 14 percent of eligible St. Paul voters showed up at the polls. “That’s lower than four years ago,” Mansky said. “As best I can tell, that’s our lowest turnout in an election for mayor in at least 30 years.”
The technical aspects of ranked-choice voting were uneventful, he said. “I did not hear any problems,” said Mansky.
City of Minneapolis spokesman Matthew Laible said the city should have a mayoral race winner Wednesday once second- and third-choice votes are counted.