There has been ample coverage on the recent Minneapolis mayoral election, which featured a staggering 35 candidates. Little attention has been paid to the race beyond that count. But despite its initial craziness, this election might actually be the sanest exercise in democracy America has seen in a long time. The range of candidates coupled with mechanism of instant-runoff voting enabled the people of Minneapolis to sift through the entire political spectrum and elect their new mayor, Betsy Hodges.
The pool of candidates put the usual complaints about third-party candidates who mitigate votes from the two-party system to shame. The pool has been described by U.S. News as "muddled" and being full of "oddball candidates" in addition to hosting viable candidates like Hodges. Hodges had been an active member of the Minneapolis City Council, as opposed to candidate Captain Jack Sparrow. (es, there was seriously a candidate who took up the fictional mantle, complete with elaborate costume.)
As kooky as some of the candidates may be, the more ideas represented in an election makes it more democratic. This is especially important for variations within the same party. Hodges's toughest competition came from fellow Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) candidates Mark Andrew and Don Samuels.
The large candidate pool triggered instant-runoff voting, which enabled voters to rank several candidates. Without a candidate obtaining 50% of the vote, all of the votes are tallied and distributed amongst the other candidates based on the voters' order of rank. The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. The recounting process is repeated until only one candidate remains. In this case, it was Hodges.
Instant-runoff voting is more justified with a large candidate pool that represents a wide range of political ideologies and policies. That was the case with the "crazy" election we saw in Minneapolis.
More views represented? More engagement from the voters? Yes, this election is a shining example of democratic process. Look past the crazy. Politics can still shine in America. Thanks Minneapolis.