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NOTEBOOK: ‘Ranked-choice voting’ for Des Moines city elections discussed


During this week’s Des Moines City Council workshop, Councilman Josh Mandelbaum suggested the city should move toward ranked-choice voting, a way that allows voters to shift their support from a losing candidate to another choice.

The process is used in at least four states – Alaska, Kansas, Hawaii and Wyoming  to choose Democratic presidential nominees, reports Jacey Fortin in the New York Times this week. Several cities use it in municipal elections, and Maine uses it for some state and federal elections.

The Des Moines council on Monday unanimously voted to abandon runoff elections and instead adopted a winner-take-all process. Mandelbaum on Monday suggested that Des Moines officials also consider offering the ranked-choice option to voters.

“The goal is to perhaps avoid the expense of runoffs but not necessarily avoid the ability for our citizens to express preference,” Mandelbaum said.

Councilman Joe Gatto immediately shot down the idea. The Iowa Democratic Party’s caucus process is similar to ranked choice, Gatto said. 

Last week, Iowa Democrats’ caucus results were in chaos after numerous problems with an app and other reporting flaws. Two candidates are now asking for a recanvass of some of the results.

“We should stay as far away from that. … That is the most confusing way to vote. Ever,” Gatto said.

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