To the Editor:

Throughout the summer, statewide campaigns have exercised all their efforts to educate voters about the upcoming rallies, the terrible opponents and the importance of your single vote in the November elections. However, when the 2019 city election cycle rolls around, St. Louis Park voters will face a less stressful election scenario – one that has renewed my sense of confidence and hope for local elections.

In April 2018, the St. Louis Park City Council voted unanimously to adopt ranked-choice voting for mayoral and city council elections. Whether or not you were aware of this change, don’t hold your breath; it’s a change for the better.

RCV allows voters to rank candidates for a certain office in order of preference rather than only choosing one candidate from the field. Sometimes referred to as “instant-runoff voting,” the voter’s second and third choices are used to supplement the leading candidates if they have not yet acquired a majority of votes.

While this quick introduction of RCV may come with some initial head-scratching, there should be little cause for concern. Done right, RCV encourages positive campaign tactics, eliminates unnecessary primary fights, provides greater voting choice and promotes majority support.

Furthermore, RCV wields the potential to create a more representative governing body. RCV combines the primary and general election into a single cost-effective election in November when voter turnout is highest and most diverse. This will eliminate nonpartisan primaries, which typically are plagued by low voter turnout, anyway. As a result, RCV will attract a more diverse field of candidates – both demographically and ideologically – giving all candidates a fair and equal chance.

Do not be discouraged by the next few months of statewide political fights. Our day-to-day lives are governed overwhelmingly by the decisions of our locally elected officials – not those sent to Washington. Regardless of the outcomes this November, I am confident that the adoption of RCV by St. Louis Park will encourage candidates to represent our diverse, active and developing community for many years to come.

Max Kent

St. Louis Park

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