Minneapolis Ranked-Choice Voting History

This page describes the process for ranked-choice voting that was first used in Minneapolis in November 2009. It also details how ranked-choice voting (RCV), or instant runoff voting (IRV) as it was called then, came to be in Minneapolis.


In 2006, the voters of Minneapolis approved a change from traditional balloting to Ranked Choice Voting for municipal elections. See how Ranked Choice Voting was approved.

Minnesota Election law requires both federal and state certification of all electronic voting systems. Since there was not any certified equipment that could conduct a Ranked Choice Voting election, the City of Minneapolis elections staff had to hand-count the 2009 election.

Research and planning

As part of the 2006 Minneapolis Instant Runoff Voting Task Force, elections staff completed research and reports that would guide the planning for implementing Ranked Choice Voting in Minneapolis.

In December 2006, Minneapolis elections staff met with then Secretary of State-elect Mark Ritchie to seek support for the creation of the Minnesota Ranked Choice Voting Issues Task Force. This task force had an open membership and included two sub-committees: Technical Advisory and Legislative/Rules Committees.

Preparing for implementation

Election planning for the 2009 municipal election included a dual-track schedule, as it was possible that the City Council could postpone implementation of Ranked Choice Voting until a future year.

The 2009 municipal election would have 22 offices on the ballots. In each precinct, there would be five different offices on the ballot.

During the planning process that year, elections staff completed these tasks:

The Minneapolis Method

The Minneapolis Method combines a hand-count with data analysis that avoids using an uncertified ballot counting program.

With the planned implementation in 2013 of certified equipment for use in the initial tabulation of ballots up to the point of data analysis, the hand-count portion of the Minneapolis Method remains as an efficient method for conducting a recount. In Minnesota, a recount must be conducted by hand. In 2013, data analysis will still be completed under similar procedures to those followed in 2009.

The full process involved in implementing the Minneapolis Method is documented here. Overall, determining winners based on the ballot data rather than sorting and re-sorting the actual ballots was easier and saved time.

Ranked-choice voting historical documents