Ranked Choice Voting Ballot Petition Case to MN Supreme Court


In June, the Bloomington City Clerk confirmed the validity of 3300 registered voters out of the 3600 signers on a petition circulated by Residents for a Better Bloomington (RFABB) asking for the repeal of Ranked Choice Voting on the November 2022 ballot.

On August 8, 2022, the Bloomington City Council refused the petition.  The Council claimed that one of the petition provisions was illegal. In the words of the Bloomington City Attorney, that provision is "manifestly unconstitutional."  (Side note: the same provision-wording was part of the garbage petition years earlier but was never flagged then as being illegal.)

The council found nothing wrong with rest of the RCV petition.

The Upper Midwest Law Center, led by Doug Seaton, and attorneys James Dickey and Gregory Joseph, met with the RFABB Board.  They resolved to work with the residents of Bloomington to correct an error that they believed the city made.

Three residents brought a lawsuit in District Court to correct that error, but the District Court denied the petition. That case is Court file 27 cv 22 12278.

The very next morning, a petition for accelerated review by the Supreme Court was filed. While a mere 8-10% of all appeals are accepted by the Minnesota Supreme Court, on August 30th, Chief Justice Lorie Gildea issued an order to grant the petition for accelerated review. She however indicated that oral arguments would be held on November 28th, after the November 2022 election. Apparently, the issues brought by Mr. Joseph and Mr. Dickey warrant a more thorough consideration by Minnesota’s highest court. The Supreme Court case is A22-1190.

The issue being appealed is not the “manifest unconstitutionality” of the fourth provision in this RCV Charter petition, but rather the much broader issue of severability of a problem provision for all Charter City resident petitions in Minnesota.

This case asks the court to make crystal clear that, in any petition brought in this state before a local charter government, the local officials (with the cooperation the petitioners) may sever parts of a petition that may be deemed as unconstitutional or unlawful if the rest of the petition is not “substantially emasculated”.

The rest of the petition should then remain intact to present to the voters. This is the case with Bloomington’s petition. This would provide a more collaborative and trusting relationship between city government and its residents. It just makes sense.

Oral arguments will be open to observers. The process in this case grants each side 30 days to prepare preliminary briefs.  The residents’ brief is due by the end of September and the City’s brief is due by the end of October.  Oral arguments will be made before the Justices the end of November. To stay up to date, sign up for the RFABB newsletter here and white list the domain RFABBMN.org to get the emails.

The RFABB leadership stated in their last update, “We will not relent, and this issue fits nicely with our goal to organize common sense Bloomington residents to get engaged and play a role in eventually voting out self/special interested partisans currently occupying our oppositional council and school boards.”

RFABB expressed its thanks to the Upper Midwest Law Center for its work on behalf of the citizens of Bloomington urging its supports to donate to this worthy public service organization. 

"RFABB also extends a very big thank you to all across Bloomington who have engaged to make a difference. Our work is not done. Returning power to residents is not an easy task but with participation, hard work, collaboration and support, we will make this happen in Bloomington."