Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Ranked Choice Voting initiative

Across the country, electoral reform initiatives are being put on the ballot. City and county-level measures are being brought forth or passing, because not only do they encourage voter participation and discourage negative campaigning, they save money when an election is close (you don't have to finance a run-off election). Here's how the Center for Voting and Democracy describes the problem with our current first-past-the-post method of plurality voting:
Three is a crowd in our current voting system. Plurality voting, where the candidate with the most votes wins, is dysfunctional when more than two candidates run. It promotes zero-sum politics that discourage new candidates, suppress new ideas and encourage negative campaigns rather than inclusive efforts to build consensus.

In contrast, instant runoff voting (IRV) elects candidates who have majority support, accommodates voters having better choices and encourages winning candidates to reach out to more people.

More cities, counties, and states are turning to ranked choice voting methods.
On July 19, the North Carolina state senate passed bipartisan legislation (H1024) to use instant runoff voting (IRV) for statewide elections for judicial office vacancies and to let 10 cities and 10 counties try IRV in 2007-2008. The bill now heads back to the House, which passed a similar bill in 2005 and must accept various amendments.

More information is available at FairVote, including an analysis of why the 2002 Alaska measure failed. An Alaskan listserve to get a method of ranked choice voting on the ballot is available for signup here.

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