MINNEAPOLIS - On November 7, voters in Minneapolis and St. Paul will head to the polls to elect mayors and other candidates in in their city elections.
This is the first year that voters in Saint Paul will use ranked-choice voting, a system that Minneapolis has used since 2009.
In Minneapolis, voters rank their top three choices. You can vote for only one person, but your vote carries more power if you rank more options. If a candidate gets 50% or more of the vote, that person wins and the election is over. But, if nobody gets 50% or more of the vote, that is when the rankings go into effect. If your number one choice doesn't make the top 3, your number 2 choice gets counted.
"The candidate who got the least amount of votes is eliminated and the second choice of preference of those voters, transfers to someone else," explained political science Professor David Schultz of Hamline University.
Candidates are eliminated round-by-round in an instant runoff, until the final two remaining candidates are left standing. One of the benefits to ranked-choice voting is that it saves city money because a primary election and a general election are combined into one.
"[Minneapolis] mayoral elections are always in a non-presidential or non-congressional year, which means, we're not going to have quite the same media exposure, or quite the same intensity or turnout that we would have in a mid-term or presidential election," said Professor Schultz, who is predicting that there will be a low voter turnout in the Minneapolis and Saint Paul mayoral races.
"Name recognition becomes really important," said Schultz.
So who does Professor Schultz predict will win the mayoral races in the Twin Cities?
"I did the math, ran some formula and found that guess what? [Mayor Betsy Hodges] probably wins the election. She is still the favorite to win a second term," said Schultz.
In full disclosure, Schultz is a supporter of mayoral candidate Tom Hoch, and has financially contributed to his campaign.
When it comes to the Saint Paul mayoral race, Schultz believes former City Council Member Pat Harris will win.
Harris has been endorsed by the city's police and firefighters union.