LANSING, Mich. — The Lansing City Council is considering a new way of conducting elections. It's called ranked-choice voting and it could be on the ballot in November.
Ranked-choice voting would pave the way for voters to rank their choices for mayor, city council, and city clerk.
If no candidate gets the majority of the first-choice votes, the person with the fewest votes would be eliminated and the second choice of everyone who voted for that candidate would be counted until there is a clear majority winner.
Lansing Mayor Andy Schor says it's an interesting concept but some people have expressed concerns.
“It’s a chance for people to rank their votes and that’s certainly a good thing to be able to express different supports. But there are certainly concerns about what if somebody doesn’t put other ranks in. What happens to their vote?” Schor said.
Other towns like Ferndale voted to implement ranked-choice voting in the early 2000s but they are still waiting for the green light from the state.
“We’ve been working with the state for the last couple of years to make sure that we have the appropriate legislation that authorizes the ballot instructions and the certification process because, without that coordination with the Bureau of Elections, we can’t conduct an election using Ranked Choice Voting," said Councilmember Kat Bruner James.
So why is Lansing considering it?
“This was brought to City Council from some advocates that believe it’s a better way to elect officials. I have personally not taken a position on this at this point," Schor said.
In Eastpointe, they have been using ranked-choice voting for a few years.
The Justice Department sued the city, alleging violations of the Voting Rights Act. The city agreed to implement ranked-choice voting as a way to make sure all voters have a fair shake of electing someone with their community’s interests at the forefront.
The agreement expires soon and the Council has voted not to continue using this method.
Councilman Cardi DeMonaco thinks that’s a mistake for two reasons.
“First, it makes for more friendly campaigning," he said. "So if you and I were running for the same position and there were five people running altogether, I could say, 'Pick me number two at least.'
"The second it really gives the voter...it really empowers them because you’re not just stuck picking one person potentially," he said.
Ferndale's Bruner James says she’s hoping that, as more and more towns and cities choose this voting method, Michigan election officials will make the process of getting approved more efficient.
Right now, the Lansing proposal is still in committee, but if City Council signs off on it, residents can expect to vote on whether they want ranked-choice voting in November. The chance would require an update to the city's charter.
Fox 47 News has reached out to get a comment from the Board of Elections on why Ferndale has been waiting nearly 20 years to get the go-ahead but, as of Thursday evening, had not heard back.
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