Make Smart 2nd & 3rd Choices to Avoid Regrets

When you vote for governor or president here in Minnesota, the candidate with the most votes wins the state. Easy, right? 

Well, it’s not quite that simple with Minneapolis city elections, which use Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) to decide the winner. When you vote for Mayor, City Council and other citywide offices, you can choose up to three candidates in your preferred order: 1st choice, 2nd choice and 3rd choice. 

That’s why wherever possible, we endorsed multiple city council candidates per ward. Scroll to the very end of this blog to see our suggestions for your ward.  

With RCV, a candidate must get a majority of votes (50% + 1) to win. If that threshold isn’t reached when all ballots are counted the first time, additional rounds of vote-counting ensue until one candidate eventually hits the mark. 

Starting with the second round, the lowest-ranking candidates with no mathematical chance of winning are eliminated. If you voted for one of them, your vote is passed along to whoever you made your second choice.  

Put another way, if your 1st-choice candidate is eliminated, your vote moves to your 2nd choice. And if that candidate is dropped, then your vote goes to your 3rd choice.

Tips For Ranked Choice Voting

This electoral process requires you to think more carefully about your choices. Because how you rank candidates may allow one you dislike to sneak in during those later rounds of voting. That’s why it is important to get to know all candidates running in your ward. It isn’t good enough to have one favorite. To help him or her win, you may have to cast a smart 2nd-choice, possibly even 3rd-choice vote.

Here’s what you should keep in mind as you start focusing on who to vote for:

  • Always rank your most preferred candidate first 
  • If there are others you like, even somewhat, rank them next
  • It is NOT required that you fill all three slots 
  • Leave off your ballot entirely any candidates you disagree with – like defunders. If you include them and the race goes to a 2nd, 3rd, even 4th round, your vote for that candidate may put him or her over the top.
  • Sorry, you cannot choose the same candidate for more than one slot. The system will accept your highest ranking and kick out the others.

Ranked Choice Voting Tutorials

Ranked Choice Voting Simply Explained

Ranked Choice Voting In Minneapolis

How Ranked Choice Voting Failed Us in 2017

Our city has suffered greatly because of the poorly conceived police defunding pledge taken by nine council members shortly after George Floyd’s death. Beyond that, their inexperience and immaturity have been exposed daily, leaving us to wonder how activists and “organizers” who’ve never run anything of consequence suddenly can be making decisions affecting a $1.5 billion enterprise and our families.

The answer is that they snuck in the backdoor thanks to RCV. Here’s how three of the defunders benefited: 

  • Steve Fletcher (Ward 3) lagged badly in second place after his first round of voting, with 28% of ballots. But enough voters marked him as their second or third choice, and he eventually won – barely – with 50.7% of the vote after three rounds.
  • Phillipe Cunningham (Ward 4) was able to pull an upset in the second round when he swept in most of the votes from competitors who dropped out after the first round. Using a strategy of “make me your second choice” paid off; people listened and complied. 
  • Jeremy Schroeder (Ward 11) was tied with the incumbent after the first round, but like Cunningham, in the second round he picked up the lion’s share of votes from competitors who dropped after the first round.

Recommendations for 2021

With more of us comfortable with the concept of RCV this time around, it will be more difficult for unqualified candidates to fool us again. Here are our ward-by-ward suggestions as you prepare to fill out your ballot:

  • Ward 1 – Incumbent Kevin Reich is the only experienced, sensible candidate. Strong on police reform, equally forceful against defunding. Make him the ONLY choice on your ballot, disregard the others.


  • Ward 2 – This ward’s race typifies the dangerous extremist lurch in our city. The only pick here is Yusra Arab, who has City Hall experience, a sensible pro-reform / anti-defunding stance on policing and the maturity to work well with stakeholders on different sides of an issue. Though we did not officially endorse in this ward, Ms. Arab stands as the superior and only choice.


  • Ward 3 – Fletcher is facing two challengers whose professional skills and experience make them ready to serve on Day One. Ranking Michael Rainville and Merv Moorhead 1st and 2nd and leaving Fletcher off altogether is your clear strategy here.


  • Ward 4 – This cycle, Cunningham should not be your second or even third choice. This ward has a superior alternative in the experienced and well-liked LaTrisha Vetaw. Make her your first and ONLY choice.


  • Ward 5 – With the superior options in play in this ward, there is no reason to include incumbent Jeremiah Ellison among your top three. Defunder Ellison has made a national spectacle of himself dressing down our respected Police Chief Medaria Arradondo at council hearings. Go with Cathy Spann and Victor Martinez as your top two, placing either one first and the other second. For your third slot, choose between Kristel Porter and young Elijah Norris-Holliday, the face of the next generation.


  • Ward 6 – There is no clear choice here. Incumbent Jamal Osman won a special election in 2020 to finish out that term. He started pragmatically, calling for both police reform AND a fully staffed police force. Recently, though, political pressures have moved him into the camp of the defunders. He has shifted erratically from one position to another, prioritizing political ambition and expediency over principles and fortitude. His opponent has been equally evasive, making this an unsatisfying menu of options for voters in Ward 6.


  • Ward 7 – History will record Lisa Goodman as one of Minneapolis’ all-time best council members. She is – by far – the best choice to represent this ward. Even residents who live outside her area remark on Lisa’s prompt response to inquiries and well-presented stance on issues. Always prepared, always ready to listen, never hesitant to call a spade a spade. And one of the few council members with actual managerial experience.  She’s  outspoken on the need to couple police reform with a fully staffed, fully functional police force. Your second choice should be entrepreneur Teqen Zea-Aida, whose perspective as a black gay man is needed and beneficial. Stop here – leave your third slot blank.


  • Ward 8 – Incumbent Andrea Jenkins has no serious challenger, leaving voters in this ward without options. That’s unfortunate for them.


  • Ward 9 – There is a huge gap between our two endorsees – Mickey Moore and A.J. Flowers, Jr. – and the rest of a crew that lacks experience and perspective. Mark these two, and stop there. In particular, leave Jason Chavez entirely off your ballot. Besides lacking the experience to lead during such a critical time for our city, he started his campaign by calling for the complete abolition of the police. With homicides again soaring to record levels, we don’t need his naivete in City Hall.


  • Ward 10 – This is the classic 3-choice ward. Our endorsed trio of Chris Parsons, David Wheeler and Alicia Gibson are solid choices several tiers above their competitors. In particular, if you dislike Lisa Bender, then stay away from police abolitionists Aisha Chughtai and Katie Jones – two inexperienced activist-types who will make you yearn for the days of Bike Lane Bender. That’s saying a lot.


  • Ward 11 – Defunder Schroeder is out of touch with his constituents. They want a balanced approach to public safety policy and he’s talking about a “police-free” future. The obvious path here is to mark his two challengers, Dillon Gherna and Emily Koski, first and second, while leaving him off. Either will be a much better fit for this ward – and for our city.


  • Ward 12 – The surest way to send incumbent Andrew Johnson a message is to choose only small business owner Nancy Ford on your ballot. Leave him off entirely. Ford is outspoken on the need for more, not fewer, police. Her decisive, straightforward style offers voters a stark and welcome contrast here.


  • Ward 13 – No brainer! Linea Palmisano is the ONLY choice in this ward. Intelligent, thoughtful and humble. She shuns the spotlight but is known behind-the-scenes for her mastery of the issues, her deft handling of the budgeting process (which she chairs) and her hands-on work with Police Chief Arradondo to move the police towards reform and full staffing. When you consider the enormous amount of work council members will need to tackle over a shortened 2-year term (due to census redistricting), it’s clear that Palmisano’s knowledge base and steady hand will be essential for progress to be made.

Got a question? Need help figuring how to rank your candidates? Email us at [email protected]  

Early voting is underway. Vote. Vote smart. And bring three friends or neighbors with you. Turnout will determine whether we defund or rebuild our police protection.