How ranked-choice voting works
Vote for multiple candidates
Voters mark their first, second and third choice of candidates on the ballot.
An immediate majority wins . . .
If any candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes, he or she is declared the winner.
. . . otherwise elimination rounds begin
The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, with his or her votes redistributed based on voters’ second and third choices.
This process continues until a candidate reaches more than 50 percent of the votes, or until only one candidate remains.
A walkthrough of the process is below.
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Votes transfer between candidates
Mayoral Candidate A
Mayoral Candidate B
Mayoral Candidate C
Mayoral Candidate D
Tallying votes can be tricky

If no candidate wins a majority of votes in the first round, all votes must be tallied before a winner can be declared.

To correctly determine how to redistribute votes from eliminated candidates, one must know the order of rankings on each ballot. With a small field of candidates, this is not very difficult. But the possible combinations of ballot rankings increases exponentially with more candidates.

In the 2013 Minneapolis mayoral election, there will be 35 candidates on the ballot. Without considering a single write-in, this means there are 39,270 possible rankings.

The city of Minneapolis will use an electronic system to determine the winner, so such calculations will take little time. But by law, recounts must be performed by hand, so this complexity may still be a factor.

If such tallying is required (by computer or by hand), the city of Minneapolis won't announce the winners of ranked-choice races until the day after the election — at the earliest.