What Minneapolis voters should expect on Election Day and beyond

With ranked-choice voting, there’s a different process for casting ballots and counting votes

On Nov. 7, Minneapolis voters will head to the polls for the 2017 municipal election. Because city elections in Minneapolis use ranked-choice voting, it’s important for voters to know what to expect on Election Day and in the following days. This election is the third time Minneapolis has used ranked-choice voting.

Casting a ballot

When voters show up to the polls Nov. 7, they’ll see the same setup they’re used to finding at the polls, but ranked-choice voting means this year’s ballot will have three columns. Just like any other election year, voters will vote by filling in ovals on a paper ballot. But instead of marking one candidate in each race, voters will be able to rank up to three candidates, using those three columns.

This year, voters will be able to rank their choices for mayor, City Council members, Board of Estimate & Taxation members, and Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board commissioners.

Instructions on how to cast a ranked-choice voting ballot will be given to each voter upon arrival at the polling place, and election judges will explain ranked-choice voting to voters as they pick up their ballots. Notices in the polling place will also help make sure voters understand how to mark a ballot.

To learn more about ranked-choice voting, visit the Minneapolis elections website at vote.minneapolismn.gov.

Getting election results

The City will tabulate the election results as quickly as possible. However, because ranked-choice voting requires a special tabulation process, some race results will not be known on election night. In races where there is no winner in the first round of counting, those results will be tabulated in the days following the election.

As each round of counting in each race is completed, those results will be posted in several places:

Although it is not possible to know exactly how long the tabulation will take for the races that do not have winners on election night, elections officials plan to complete tabulation and declare a winner in the mayor’s race as soon as possible.

Here’s how results tabulation will happen on election night and the following days:

  • Election night: After the polls close at 8 p.m., ballot counters will be used in each precinct to obtain first-round results. On election night, the best place to get initial results will be the City’s elections website, where totals of first-choice rankings are the unverified first-round results from election night. Because of the way ranked-choice voting works, it is not possible to simply add up numbers in the columns to get final results.

The City’s elections website, vote.minneapolismn.gov, will be the source for definitive election night results. As complete results come in that evening, first-choice vote tallies for each race will be posted in these places along with the determination of whether an unofficial winner can be declared or if additional rounds of tabulation will need to occur.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 8 and beyond: The morning of Nov. 8, elections officials will prepare the results data for tabulation, which will begin that afternoon.

To complete the tabulation, two teams of two elections staffers each will work independently to process the results data and determine winners (to learn more about how ranked-choice voting is counted, watch this video. The two independent teams will do regular checks with each other to ensure that the tabulation results are consistent and accurate.)

Ranked-choice voting tabulation processes ballots through a series of rounds, in which the lowest ranked candidate or candidates are eliminated, and their votes are redistributed to the next-ranked candidate on those ballots. As each round of counting is completed in each race, those results will be posted on the City’s elections website at vote.minneapolismn.gov.

Races will be tabulated in the order in which the offices are listed on the ballot. A random order has been created to handle City Council wards and Park and Recreation Board districts.

For races in which there is no election night winner, here is the order in which the tabulation will be done, starting Nov. 8:

    • Mayor
    • City Council (wards in this order: 3, 9, 5, 10, 11, 4, 2, 7, 8, 1, 6, 13, 12)
    • Board of Estimate and Taxation
    • Park and Recreation Board at-large
    • Park and Recreation Board (districts in this order: 6, 3, 5, 2, 1, 4)