Once upon a time in Minnesota?

by Rebecca Blumenshine // Published February 10, 2009
I am from Minnesota. In a few decades, I plan to tell my grandchildren a story like this:

Once upon a time there were some people who felt they had something to gain by confusing Minnesotans away from whole-heartedly supporting instant runoff voting. Their arguments were deceptive and bizarre. Even so, somehow they were actually able to convince some citizens that instant runoff voting was in opposition to the constitution of the U.S.A.

Of course, my grandchildren will giggle at the absurdity of such an outlandish proposition. They will beg me to tell them more about the strange, dark days when U.S. elections were NOT decided by the winners of a majority of votes, when candidates used expensive, dirty campaigns vying to convince the most people they were the lesser of two evils, and when voters were so disgruntled by the lack of real choice in elections that enormous percentages of them didn't even bother to show up to vote.

If my grandchildren are not already howling with horror and laughter, I will continue to explain about the olden days, when, in almost every election, there were never more than two candidates with even a semblance of a chance of winning. In fact, in many elections there was essentially only one candidate due minuscule competition! When, on the very rare occasion that a "third party candidate" (as they were known) did prove to have significant popularity, they were branded as a "spoiler" and their supporters where blamed for other candidates' potential losses.

By now there will be shrieks of terror and glee. From here my grandchildren will fill in the rest. They will proudly explain how they are from Minnesota, the state that put its foot down to all this nonsense once and for all. They are from the state famous for saying "no more!" to non-majority winners and single member districts. My grandchildren will bear the legacy of leaders in the movement toward the greatest democratic (small d) victory of all: instant runoff voting (ranked choice voting) in multi-member districts.

Everyone knows, they will tell me, that Minnesota led the way in electoral reforms that brought more equal and proportional representation to all levels of U.S. government. Our grandparents, they will say, were the vanguards at the turning of the tide. The turn where the country suddenly woke up and learned to effectively base its electoral system off of the democratic ideals of its constitution. And it all began with a groundswell of smart, perceptive, democracy-driven Minnesotans who pushed for instant runoff voting in municipal elections.

Click here for more information on instant runoff voting or choice voting. To learn more about FairVote Minnesota, click here. To get to tell this story to future generations about your state, get involved here.