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Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) Hot Takes

Minneapolis & St. Paul Elections 2021


RCV: what is it?

Minneapolis and St. Paul utilize a Ranked Choice Voting system. Ranked choice voting, sometimes called “instant runoff voting,” allows voters to rank as many or as few candidates as they like, from their most favored to least favored: first choice, second choice, third choice, etc. Voters can, but are not required to, rank multiple candidates. A voter may vote for only one candidate if they so choose. A winner may be declared in the first round if they earn, at least, 50% + 1 vote of the total votes.

RCV: the process
Tabulations are completed from 1st to 3rd rankings for each candidate on the ballot. Undervotes and overvotes for each candidate are removed. Thousands of write-in candidates are analyzed (this is an image file that must be verified and converted so it can be read as a name). Then, non-declared write-ins are removed. In the Minneapolis mayoral race, there were two declared write-in candidates, so those two were counted.

RCV: hot takes from Minneapolis

First round City Council winners include: LaTrisha Vetaw (Ward 4), Jamal Osman (Ward 6) who only faced one challenger, Lisa Goodman (Ward 7), Andrea Jenkins (Ward 8), Jason Chavez (Ward 9), Emily Koski (Ward 11), Andrew Johnson (Ward 12), and Linea Palmisano (Ward 13). 


First round Park Board winners include: Billy Menz (District 1) who had no challenger, Becky Alper (District 3), Elizabeth Shaffer (District 4), Steffanie Musich (District 5).

Mayor Jacob Frey fails to win in the first round but garners a win after second round tabulations. While his opponent, Sheila Nezhad, garnered the most DFL convention delegate votes, second place for first round tabulations, and heightened visibility throughout the campaign, the overall second place mayoral candidate was Kate Knuth, following the second round tabulations.

Unable to clinch a majority vote in the first round, but garnering the most votes in both the first and second rounds combined, seals the deal for: 


  • City Council newcomers Elliott Payne (Ward 1), Robin Wonsley-Worlobah (Ward 2) who won by only 19 votes, Michael Rainville (Ward 3), Aisha Chughtai (Ward 10), and incumbent Jeremiah Ellison (Ward 5)

  • Board of Estimate and Taxation candidates Steve Brandt and Sam Pree-Stinson, who both earned the top votes needed to win the two open seats

  • Park Board candidate Becka Thompson (District 2)


Unable to garner the most first round votes, but an overwhelming majority in round two, sealed the win for Park Board candidate Cathy Abene (District 6).


The complicated multi-seat RCV process, which involves proportional representation by way of dividing and redistributing excessive votes needed to win rather than wasting them, helped declare the win for Park Board Commissioner At-Large candidates Tom Olsen, Meg Forney, and Alicia D. Smith.


RCV: hot take from St. Paul

In St. Paul, Mayor Melvin Carter is easily reelected with 61.6% of votes in the first round of ranked choice voting.


Jeanelle Foster is reelected, in the first round, with 56.9% of total votes cast, in the St. Paul School Board At-Large special election.


The same complicated multi-seat RCV process helped declare wins to the three open St. Paul School Board At-Large seats for incumbent Jim Vue and newcomers Hella Henderson and Uriah Ward.


Learn more and watch a video that explains Ranked Choice Voting by visiting FairVote MN at


Find certified election results by visiting the Secretary of State’s website at: 

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J. Deebaa Sirdar

Guest Editor, Black Votes Matter MN


NOVEMBER 5, 2024



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