IRV decision goes to the MN Supreme Court

March 21, 2009


PRESS RELEASE, 3/17/09:  The Minnesota Supreme Court issued an order on March 17, 2009, for the accelerated briefing and review of the Minnesota Voters Alliance appeal from the District Court’s decision finding the City of Minneapolis’ Instant Runoff Voting system of elections constitutional. 

The Minnesota Voters Alliance sought accelerated review, as did the City, bypassing the Court of Appeals process because of the lower court’s failure to follow established Supreme Court precedent — law that only the Supreme Court can affirm or reverse.  

The Minnesota Voters Alliance is confident the Supreme Court will find IRV unconstitutional and reverse the lower court’s declaration that in an IRV system:

  • it is acceptable that a voter who votes for his first choice could harm that candidate’s chance of winning;
  • it is acceptable that some voters will have more of their votes counted than others;
  • it is acceptable that in the election tabulation a vote can be fractioned, thus allowing the court to conclude, for the first time ever in state law, that there is no guarantee or protection that a voter’s vote is to be counted as a numeric “one” whole vote;
  • and, that these characteristics do not violate the provisions of United States and Minnesota Constitutions protecting the right to vote, equal protection under the law, or the principle of one-person, one-vote.

The State Supreme Court will likely announce the date of the hearing shortly after the last brief is filed on April 17, 2009.


We find it incredible that any court could find a voting system which disenfranchises the voters in these ways to be constitutionally acceptable. 

Despite the boisterous crowing and dubious arguments of FairVote and the deep-pocketed activist groups they are affiliated with, we believe the state supreme court will reverse the district court’s erroneous ruling.  We are, however, prepared to take this all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary. 

It’s an admitted fact, by virtue of the judges ruling, that IRV diminishes the character and value of a voter’s vote (as per the bullet points listed above).  So, the only remaining question is whether these violations of our franchise rights are constitutionally acceptable or not.

Judge McGunnigle thinks they are.  We know they are not, and we believe the Supreme Court should have no trouble concluding that we are absolutely right, and that therefore IRV is not allowable as a voting system for Minnesota elections.  We also believe this will set a precedent that will correctly make IRV or any other similar scheme illegal throughout the United States.