Fwd: [instantrunoff] Strong commentary on using IRV rather than runoffs
- --- democracyusa@... wrote:
> To: email@example.com://www.macon.com/mld/macon/news/opinion/9311476.htm
> From: democracyusa@...
> Date: Wed, 4 Aug 2004 10:44:59 EDT
> Subject: [instantrunoff] Strong commentary on using
> IRV rather than runoffs
> We're in the midst of "runoff season" in southern
> states -- most southern
> states use two-round runoffs to ensure primary
> winners in federal and state races
> have majority support, but those runoffs almost
> always have drops in turnout.
> Our review of runoff elections in federal primary
> elections from 1994-2002
> showed turnout dropped in 82 of 84 runoffs, on
> average by 35%. See:
> - Rob Richie
> Macon Telegraph, August 4, 2004=====
> Very solid op-ed for us: The dismal runoff showing
> By Bill Weaver
> WARNER ROBINS - Between now and next Tuesday many
> state and county officials
> will be predicting another awful turnout for the
> primary election runoff.
> They'll beg us to go vote again, but most of us
> We should, of course, and we encourage everyone to
> do so. But the truth is
> runoffs have a glorious history of dismal
> participation. The Georgia Secretary
> of State's office says that for the past eight years
> only about one in 10
> voters has participated in the runoff (only three in
> 10 voted in the July 20
> primary). That's ugly, but understandable.
> The runoff system sometimes requires us to vote
> twice to get one winner.
> Voters figure once is enough, and maybe they're
> right. Maybe we should consider an
> election method that gets a winner every time, but
> with only one vote. There
> is such a method, and it's been around longer than
> Georgia's current runoff
> University of Georgia political science professor
> Charles Bullock says that
> prior to 1964 the state's election method was
> decentralized - the political
> machines in each county set their own rules. Some
> elections were decided by a
> plurality; regardless of the number of candidates in
> a race, the person who got
> the most votes won. This "winner-take-all" system
> remains in use in many
> But some counties insisted the winner had to receive
> a majority - more than
> half of all votes cast. If the presence of multiple
> candidates fragmented the
> vote so one candidate didn't get a majority, the top
> two vote-getters advanced
> to a runoff. That was the method Georgia started
> using in 1964, and it's the
> same method we use today.
> It certainly gets the job done, but with twice the
> effort. And not only is
> having to vote twice a hassle, it's expensive. The
> secretary of state's office
> estimates the runoff next week will cost Georgia
> taxpayers $1 million, which
> doesn't include what the candidates will spend.
> Some cities around the country are using a method
> called "instant runoff
> voting" that negates the need for a second election.
> Voters go to the polls only
> once, but they cast a different kind of ballot which
> allows for a majority vote
> winner every time.
> Instead of voting for only one candidate, voters
> mark their ballot for
> multiple candidates, ranking them in order of the
> voter's preference - a first
> preference candidate, a second preference, etc. When
> the ballots are counted, if
> one candidate receives a majority of all first
> preference votes, he/she wins.
> But if no one has a majority, the candidate who had
> the fewest first preference
> votes is eliminated. Then ballots are counted a
> second time, with the votes
> for that last-place candidate redistributed to the
> candidates who those voters
> picked as their second preference. With each
> counting someone gets eliminated
> and that person's votes get redistributed so that,
> eventually, only two
> candidates remain and one gets the required
> Bullock said the system is not particularly new, as
> it was used in Alabama as
> far back as the early 1930s. The Center for Voting
> and Democracy says that in
> the last 18 months Congress and more than 20 state
> legislatures have
> considered new election voting methods, including
> instant runoff voting. But the
> National Conference of State Legislatures reports no
> states have authorized IRV in
> the last four years, though many have debated it.
> State Rep. Larry Walker,
> D-Perry, said he could not recall IRV's being
> discussed during his long tenure in
> the Georgia Legislature.
> Nevertheless, given the terrible turnout that
> runoffs produce, maybe we
> should consider something new. Would IRV save money?
> Absolutely. Would the courts
> approve? Don't know. Would it change campaign
> tactics? Probably, but tactics
> are changing anyway.
> This new early voting method we're employing
> certainly is convenient, but
> it's changing the game, especially since some issues
> aren't being exposed until
> the last few days - or even hours - prior to an
> election and well after early
> voters have voted. Political strategies are
> evolving, and IRV would affect
> them, too.
> But we need to try something. Would IRV improve
> voter turnout in the primary?
> Probably not, but it would certainly eliminate the
> dismal showing we can
> expect in the runoff. That, plus saving at least a
> million dollars, might actually
> be worth considering.
> Bill Weaver is the Houston Bureau chief.
Director, Midwest Democracy Center
312.587.7060 (office) 312.933.4890 (mobile)
Voice for all in legislatures by cumulative voting in 3-seat districts
Instant runoff voting for executives to give voters more choices
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