RED WING -- Ranking will not appear on Red Wing ballots anytime soon.

On Monday the City Council decided to suspend the push toward putting ranked choice voting on the 2020 ballot to allow residents to decide if it should be adopted for local elections beginning in 2022.

City staff recommended that the council pause work on ranked choice after a meeting held on Wednesday, Nov. 20. Representatives from the city, county, FairVote Minnesota met with the Secretary of State's Office elections director and Election Systems & Software representatives to look at the council’s proposal. The main problem raised was that Red Wing votes during even years. So far, every Minnesota municipality with ranked choice votes in odd years.

Council Administrator Kay Kuhlman explained to the council and observing residents: “It’s not that there’s language that says it’s not legal, it’s just that there’s not language that says that it is legal.”

The staff report for Monday’s meeting explained that David Maede, state elections director, clarified that Minnesota law is silent on ranked-choice voting. He went on to explain that law does not provide protection for cities that use a ranked choice voting system in even-numbered years.

According to Kuhlman, this means that if there is any court challenge to the ballot, the city would have to represent itself without any help from the state.

Council members unanimously agreed that they should not move forward with ranked-choice voting at this time.

“This just reinforces my understanding that we need to support the local options bill," Council Vice President,Evan Brown, said. “And so it seems that we’re in a situation where, essentially, the Supreme Court says something is legal, the state hasn’t provided any guidance on it.”

FairVote Minnesota explains that the 2019 Minnesota House local options bill would “give any city, school district, etc., the right to use RCV if they wish, without having to ask the Legislature permission.”