Cedar Rapids Mayoral Runoff Election set to cost around $80,000, while Des Moines ended runoffs in 2020

Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 6:46 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Voters in Cedar Rapids will get to decide the city’s next Mayor for the second time this month. A runoff election is scheduled for Tuesday after no candidate earned a majority, 50% plus 1, of votes earlier this month.

The election, according to Linn County Auditor Joel Miller (D), will cost $80,000 with the city of Cedar Rapids covering a majority of the price. Cedar Rapids isn’t an outlier when it comes to election format. However, the city council for Des Moines unanimously voted to end runoffs in February 2020.

Des Moines switched to their format to Winner-Take-All, meaning somebody with 36% of votes could win outright. Councilmembers told KCCI removing the runoff would save taxpayers money.

In Cedar Rapids, runoff elections have changed the would-be winner of elections. In 2017, Monica Vernon received the most votes after the first round of voting while Brad Hart ended up getting 54% in the second round.

This year, Brad Hart didn’t make the recount by 40 votes and decided against asking for a recount. If he did decide to ask a recount, Joel Miller said the Auditor’s Office wouldn’t have been able to administer early voting in the runoff.

“You can’t do anything,” he said. “Until the recount is over that stops everything. You can’t issue ballots, you can send them out because you don’t know which ballot to send.”

Miller said rank choice voting, which he said is illegal in Iowa, could be the ideal voting system. This allows people to rank candidates based on their preferences. If no candidate wins a majority, the last-place candidate gets eliminated and their voter’s second preference is counted instead. This continues until somebody gets over 50 percent.

Other cities across the United States, most notably New York, have switched to rank choice voting. However, its implementation has had its own set of controversies.

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