MINOT, N.D. — Thanks to a local ballot initiative approved by voters, the city of Fargo has changed how municipal elections work so that they’re fundamentally different from every other election in the state of North Dakota.
The city now uses approval voting in elections for city officials, including mayoral and city commission seats. It’s a method sometimes confused with ranked-choice voting, which has made national headlines after it was used in Alaska , with a great deal of controversy, in a special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Don Young, who had passed away.
A ranked-choice system asks voters to prioritize the candidates. You have a first choice, then a second choice, etc. Once the votes are counted, if no candidate has 50% of the first-rank votes, the candidate with the lowest vote total is eliminated, and the second-rank votes are counted.
Approval voting, which is what Fargo is using, is a bit different in that voters don’t rank the candidates. Instead, they vote for all the candidates they approve of. The candidate with the most votes wins.