Soon to be former St. Paul Council-member Kassim Busuri (
by Tony Petrangelo
Nov 11, 2019, 8:30 AM

Chasing Those Precious Second Choice Votes Part 2

On Friday November 8th St. Paul conducted the reallocation of Ranked Choice Voting Votes for Wards 1 and 6. This was a big moment for the anonymous St. Paul “insider” we were introduced to in part one of this soon to be concluded series. Either the “insider” would be correct and Ward 6 Council-member Kassim Busuri would, while certainly not actually win the race given how the first choice votes went, at least acquit himself well when it came to the reallocation of the votes to second and lower choices.

Here’s how the reallocation went round by round:

Round 1

Eliminated: Write-in
Votes reallocated: 19
Votes to Busuri: 4

Round 2

Eliminated: Danielle Swift
Votes reallocated: 240
Votes to Busuri: 13

Round 3

Eliminated: Alexander Bourne
Votes reallocated: 328
Votes to Busuri: 44

Round 4

Eliminated: Greg Copeland and Kassim Busuri


In all Kassim Busuri won 61 of the 587 reallocated votes that were up for grabs. That’s 10%. Not too far from the 7% of the first choice votes he won.

Greg Copeland had actually won the most reallocated votes through round 3, 131 or 22%, but it wasn’t enough to make up the first choice ground he need to make up. This is because while he lead the way at 131, Nelsie Yang and Terry Thao weren’t that far behind, pulling in 113 and 102 of the reallocated votes through round 3 respectively.

So the St. Paul “insider,” it would appear, was terribly wrong.

Not so fast though. Even with all of this information above about how little of the reallocated vote that Kassim Busuri actually garnered, it’s still entirely possible the St. Paul “insider” may actually have been right about where Busuri’s second choice votes would come from.

Let’s revisit what exactly it was that the St. Paul “insider” actually had to say:

Screenshot of a morning take take

It’s possible that what this St. Paul “insider” meant was that Busuri would clean up on second choice votes from the other minor candidates, but as we saw, that did not happen. Another possibility (and given the galaxy brain at work here the possibilities could be endless) is that what the St. Paul “insider” really meant is that Busuri would get Yang and Thao voters to rank him second.

The problem with this “strategy” should be obvious. During the entire reallocation process for Ward 6 the second and lower choice votes parked behind Nelsie Yang and Terry Thao first choice votes were never counted.

During the 2017 Minneapolis Mayors race reallocation, when votes for some 5,438 candidates (slight exaggeration) got redistributed to other candidates the second and lower choice votes that were on ballots with Jacob Frey and Rey Dehn first choice votes were never counted.

Here’s what happens with first choice votes: They get counted. Every. Single. One.

Here’s what happens with second and lower choice votes: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The moral of the story is that in a ranked choice election, first choice votes are way, way, way, way better than any other kind of vote. It’s not even close. And really, it’s kind of ridiculous that this point keeps needing to be made. This shit isn’t rocket science, it’s basic math that any “insider,” St. Paul or otherwise, should be well aware of.

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