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Lansing’s dropping proposed rank-choice voting system

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 7:35 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - It looks like Lansing is dropping a proposal to switch to ranked-choice voting, because the city is out-ranked by state law. Under ranked choice voting voters rank candidates in order of preference rather than just choosing one of them.

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum told News 10 she isn’t against ranked choice voting, but she’s concerned about the effect it would have on the voting technology.

Byrum said, “I don’t understand why the goal is to put this as an option when it’s not feasible.”

Under ranked choice voting, voters would rank candidates for mayor, city council and city clerk in order of preference. But Byrum says it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to switch.

“I don’t have that capability right now,” Byrum said. “It’s a new computer program, new computers, its new tabulators, its new training, its learning how to program. It’s really costly and I think this really should be done on the stateside, the state level.”

The state elections director recently sent a letter to Lansing’s City Council saying Michigan’s voting law would need to be amended to allow ranked choice voting. If the law was to be amended Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope says ranked choice voting has been successful in other states.

“It’s a good voting system. I think it does offer more opportunities,” Swope said. “It’s been shown to lead to more cooperative voting or more cooperative campaigning with candidates less likely to engage in person attacks and focus more on issues.”

City Council is set to vote Aug. 9 on whether-or-not to add ranked choice voting to the November ballot. The primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 3.

Lansing’s city clerk says about one third of absentee ballots sent out have not been returned. It’s too late to send it in the mail, but you can still use a drop box. You have until 8:00 p.m. Tuesday to submit your ballot.

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