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The Cost of Ranked-Choice Voting in St. Paul, Minnesota

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In November 2011, St. Paul, Minnesota used ranked-choice voting (RCV) for the first time. This system lets voters choose candidates in order of preference, and if no candidate gets a majority of the vote, the candidate with the least votes is eliminated and those votes go to those voters’ second choice. This continues until a candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote.

This system eliminates the need for a primary election, and the Ramsey County elections office, home of St. Paul, estimates that not holding a primary saved the city and county $125,000.

The county also provides detailed information of what RCV did cost—slightly less than $190,000 combined for the city and county. Almost half of these were one-time costs, such as developing training materials, for implementing the new system.