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Fwd: [instantrunoff] Strong commentary on using IRV rather than runoffs

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  • Dan Johnson-Weinberger
    ... http://www.macon.com/mld/macon/news/opinion/9311476.htm ... ===== Dan Johnson-Weinberger www.djw.info Director, Midwest Democracy Center 312.587.7060
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 4, 2004
      --- democracyusa@... wrote:

      > To: instantrunoff@yahoogroups.com
      > 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:
      > http://fairvote.org/turnout/federaldecline.htm
      > - 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
      > won't.
      > 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
      > system.
      > 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
      > states.
      > 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
      > majority.
      > 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.

      Dan Johnson-Weinberger
      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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