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How does ranked-choice voting work? What common mistakes do voters make?

Good Question: How Does Ranked Choice Voting Work?
Good Question: How Does Ranked Choice Voting Work? 02:47

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesotans are going to the polls Tuesday.

In several cities, you don't have to pick just one candidate. Take Minneapolis. There are 17 choices for mayor and residents can choose up to three. How does ranked choice voting work and what common mistakes do voters make? Good Question.

To answer it, we asked our Facebook followers to list their top three pizza toppings from a list of five.

PIZZA VOTE: Ranked choice voting is once again how Minneapolis voters will cast their ballots this election season. To...

Posted by WCCO & CBS News Minnesota on Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The light-hearted poll is basically how voters choose elected officials in Minneapolis and beyond through ranked-choice voting.

What are the first steps a voter should take when looking at a ranked-choice ballot?

"Read the instructions," Minneapolis Election Administration Supervisor Aaron Grossman said. "Each race will be laid out with three columns. And each column will be the first choice, second choice and third choice ... going from left to right."

You can vote for one candidate, or up to three. Bubble in your top choice in the first column, then your second choice in the second column, and so on.

What if a voter ranks one candidate multiple times?

"Yes, we see that," Grossman said. "It doesn't help that candidate at all if you rank them three times, it also doesn't hurt them in that situation. It'd be the same as just ranking them once and then leaving your other two spots blank."

The first-choice votes are counted first, and a candidate wins if they get more than 50% of the vote.

Using our pizza poll of 56 voters, 31 people made pepperoni their first choice, which is enough to win. Had it received less than 50%, the candidate with the lowest number of first-place votes -- in this case pineapple -- would be removed, and those who ranked it number one would have their second-choice votes added to the other candidates.

"And we continue that process until we have somebody who does reach that threshold and is elected," Grossman said.

During the 2017 election in Minneapolis, 16 of the 22 races required further tabulation for a candidate to top 50%.

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