Duluthians Sampling Ranked-Choice Voting by Ranking Local Brews

June 17, 2015 11:39 PM

Over 100 Duluthians came together Wednesday night at Clyde Iron Works to exhibit a new way of how they want elect our political leaders, and they sampled that process by ranking their favorite local brewery.

Brews for a Better Ballot is a way for the community to learn about ranked-choice voting. Officials say it's a new voting system that gives the voters the option of ranking their top candidates in order of preference, the same way one would rank their favorite beer.

Wednesday's event also gave proponents of the new voting system the opportunity to get closer to a goal of gathering more 1,600 signatures. Those signatures would be used to put ranked-choice voting on a ballot this November.

Henry Helgan, a volunteer with Duluth Better Ballot Campaign, says "ranked-choice voting is, instead of voters turning out for a low turnout primary and then again in the general election, all the candidates showing up in the general election voted on by all of the voters."

Frank Jewell, St. Louis County Commissioner, says of the new voting style, "well this really increases the choices that people have, and it increases their power in making decisions.

Opponents of the ranked-choice voting are skeptical of the numbers of votes that cast.

Mathematician and UMD math instructor Eric Erdmann says, "ranked-choice voting on the surface looks good. And when I first started researching voting methods, the group I am with liked that as a choice, but as you dig deeper...some of the surface claims and the method just falls apart."

Duluth Mayoral candidate Howie Hanson agrees with Erdmann and says, "right now the system isn't broken. Why are we trying to reinvent things?"

Backers of ranked-choice voting counter those allegations. Helgan says, "scholarly research on ranked-choice voting and alternate voting system shows that there's no theoretically pure voting system."

Brews for a Better Ballot concluded with the announcement of Bent Paddle Brewery being ranked as the top brewery in Duluth.


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