Newspaper article

Minneapolis Planning 'Mock Election' Voter-Education Program on Ranked Choice

Newspaper article

Minneapolis Planning 'Mock Election' Voter-Education Program on Ranked Choice

Article excerpt

Before Minneapolis voters go to the polls in November, they will have a chance to try out the new voting machines -- and the ranked- choice ballot -- in mock elections.

That's part of a voter education program presented Wednesday to the City Council Elections Committee.

Then, on Election Night, voters might know some of the winners, in contrast to 2009, the first time ranked choice was used. That time, it took nearly three weeks for some winners to be determined.

Four years ago, all of the ballots had to be hand-counted, and the results of that count had to be hand-entered into the machines. With the new voting machines, that process should be eliminated.

"I'm looking at a hand-count as more of a contingency in case of a problem," said Grace Wachlarowicz, director of elections. She thinks all of the ballots should be counted and winners announced within a few days, with some winners likely declared on Election Night.

In each race, a numerical "threshold" will be established. That threshold is the number of votes a candidate needs to make it mathematically impossible for anyone else to win. If a candidate reaches the threshold based on first-choice votes, that person could be declared the winner.

If no candidate reaches the threshold on the first count, second- and third-choice votes would be counted until a winner can be declared.

"We will be training our voters on the new equipment in the mock elections," said Wachlarowicz, "It's going to be very comprehensive for each voter."

Work is about to begin to recruit election "ambassadors, "who will be spending time visiting neighborhood events and community meetings to explain the voting process and train voters.

The ambassadors will be recruited from community organizations and groups that already participate in voter education, such as the League of Women Voters, Fair Vote Minnesota, Common Cause and Minnesota Voice. …

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