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IRV article at MinnPost.com

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  • Tom Ruen
    MinnPost had an article Friday about IRV, so I pasted that section below. You gotta love Andy Cilek s nonsense quotes: IRV puts blindfolds on the voters, he
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 15, 2008
      MinnPost had an article Friday about IRV, so I pasted that section below.
      You gotta love Andy Cilek's nonsense quotes:
          IRV puts blindfolds on the voters," he says. "(With IRV) voters don't know if they're helping or hurting the cause of their favorite candidate. The court has said we do right in upholding the right of the citizen to cast a vote for the candidate of his choice unimpaired by additional votes by others."
      I have plenty of worries about IRV, but blindfolding voters isn't one! His logic makes my head spin!
      Technically his arguments could apply to ANY runoff process, including our nonpartisan primaries which is a form of runoff. Voter don't know that supporting their favorite could cause him to lose! While if they had "GOD KNOWLEDGE", they could have strategically voted to help a weaker competitor beat a stronger competitor out in the top-two primary round so a real favorite can win the general round!

      OH, wait, people REALLY do this crap in primaries! Primaries make these "bluff support" votes easier, because such voters can still move their vote back to their true, while IRV disallows moving votes in the final round.
      Why can't Andy Cilek help ME fight "nonpartisan primaries" as a greater source of corruption against honest voters?
      Oh, well, it's all good. Judges are pretty smart people, so I'll trust them!
      Tom Ruen

      Minnesota elections are already a national leader, but could they be better?

       By Marisa Helms | Friday, Nov. 14, 2008

      For the most part, Minnesota has a strong elections process, and the state even leads the nation in some areas, such as same-day registration and the use of paper ballots and automatic audits.

      But, is there a better way to run Minnesota's elections?

      Election watchers around the state have been weighing in on a lot of election issues – from a few minor tweaks, such as moving the state's primary earlier than September, to major changes, such as extending the time when citizens can cast their votes, requiring a photo ID in order to vote, and moving to a system called Instant Runoff Voting (IRV).

      Here's a look at some of the high-profile issues, starting with the most controversial.

      Instant Runoff Voting
      Some see the recount in the Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken as a prime example of why the state should move to IRV. Lots of people seem to like it. But there are others who abhor it and hope never to see a ranked ballot in the state of Minnesota – or anywhere else in the United States, for that matter.

      IRV is a process in which the electorate ranks candidates by preference: first choice, second choice, third choice, etc. If a candidate is clearly determined with a majority (50 percent plus one) of first-place votes, then he or she wins. If not, the instant runoff is triggered. The candidate with the fewest first-place votes is eliminated, and those votes are redistributed to citizens' second choice. If the first redistribution doesn't produce a majority winner, the process continues by eliminating the next lowest candidate and redistributing those votes until one candidate reaches a majority.

      Proponents of IRV say it's a better way to run elections, especially when third-party candidates are on the ballot.

      "Many people in the DFL and Republican parties wish the Green, Independence and Libertarian parties would go away," says Jack Uldrich, an Independence Party member who has run for U.S. House and Senate seats. "But we're not going away. Especially here in Minnesota. The question becomes how to create a system that allows us to flourish, and to elect people by majority. The best solution is IRV."

      Its proponents argue that the current plurality system presumes just two candidates in a race, and when there are more, such as the Coleman-Franken Senate race that also included the IP's Dean Barkley, the system breaks down.

      "What a debacle," says Jeanne Massey of
      FairVote Minnesota, the local branch of a national organization pushing IRV.

      "If a significant third-party candidate gets cast aside as a 'spoiler,' the message doesn't get through," says Massey, "And voters lose out."

      She says voters want and deserve choice. But in the current election system, voters don't always choose their preferred candidate "because they worry their vote is wasted or it will help elect their least favorite candidate," says Massey.

      IRV would remedy the spoiler effect, she says, because every vote is counted. Massey also believes it would promote more civil elections.

       "Negative campaigning is a hallmark of two-way races," says Massey. "With IRV, candidates stay on the issues because they want as many first-choice votes as they can get, but also want second-choice votes. So they don't go negative because they don't want to alienate voters by attacking their opponents."

      While IRV could be seen as a benefit to the Independence and Green parties that regularly run candidates in Minnesota, one of the state's major parties, the DFL Party also supports it, adopting IRV as part of its platform earlier this year.

      "It allows voters to express their preferences more honestly," says DFL Party Chairman Brian Melendez. "It's better to have an outcome with a majority vote, instead of being stuck with electing the minority candidate."

      Melendez and others point out that the choice of Minnesota's governor has not been decided by a majority of the electorate in the past three election cycles (Ventura, with  37 percent in 1998, and  Pawlenty, with 44 percent in 2002 and 47 percent in 2006).

      IRV is used in Australia and Ireland and in a small handful of U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Cambridge, Mass., and Burlington, Vt., and several counties, most recently Pierce County, Wash. FairVote's Massey says several more cities are scheduled to implement IRV, including Berkeley, Calif.;  Aspen, Colo.; and of course, Minneapolis (that is, if a lawsuit doesn't stop it from moving forward).

      In 2006, Minneapolis approved IRV with 65 percent voter approval. It's supposed to go into effect for next year's city elections, but the
      Minnesota Voters Alliance is suing the city of Minneapolis to stop it.

      The group's director, Andy Cilek, says the only reason IRV passed in Minneapolis and in other municipalities is because "the bureaucratic elite shoved it down the throats of the people."

      Cilek says IRV is "fatally flawed," because it violates both Minnesota law and the state Constitution. Cilek says he's confident his group will take its case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.

      "IRV puts blindfolds on the voters," he says. "(With IRV) voters don't know if they're helping or hurting the cause of their favorite candidate. The court has said we do right in upholding the right of the citizen to cast a vote for the candidate of his choice unimpaired by additional votes by others."

      Cilek also believes IRV is unconstitutional because it allows some people in effect to vote more than once. For example, if you pick the winning candidate, you get one vote, but if you choose a losing candidate, then your second-choice, and maybe even third-choice votes also might be counted.

      The alliance's case against the city could be heard as early as next week in Hennepin County court.

      Other cities in Minnesota, particularly St. Paul and Duluth, are looking at IRV. St. Paul is waiting for the outcome of the Minneapolis case before moving ahead with plans to put it on the ballot for voters to decide.

      FairVote's Massey says IRV has survived constitutional challenges in other states, and she expects Minneapolis' IRV measure to prevail, too.

      Legislative issues could again include photo IDs

      Marisa Helms can be reached at mhelms [at] minnpost [dot] com.
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