[EM] Fw: [InstantRunoffNYS] Digest Number 52

Bart Ingles bartman at netgate.net
Sat Feb 22 10:23:45 PST 2003

http://approvalvoting.com and http://approvalvoting.org are the sites to
look to for lobbying efforts, at least if you favor approval voting.  As
for debating the relative merits of various voting systems or proposing
new ones, this (the EM list) is still the place.

Douglas Greene wrote:
> Guys,
> While we're debating the perfect electoral system, VT and ME are poised to enact IRV.
> Time to join the real world of lobbying, folks.  Theory is important, but bad sytems are being put into practice.
> Doug
> Portland Press Herald
> Wednesday, February 19, 2003
> Support grows for switch to run-off voting
> By TOM BELL, Portland Press Herald Writer
> AUGUSTA — Election reform advocates are rallying behind legislation that
> would establish the instant run-off voting method for national and state
> elections. Supporters of the method - used in Australia and Ireland and
> some U.S. and British cities - say it minimizes the "spoiler effect" that
> occurs when an independent or third-party candidate prevents any candidate
> from winning a majority of votes.
> Under the current system, they say, a candidate can win an election even
> when a significant majority of voters vote for other candidates. They
> point
> to elections such as the 1998 election in Minnesota that elected Jesse
> Ventura governor with just 37 percent of the vote.
> The issue has particular resonance in Maine, where each of last five
> governors - John Baldacci, Angus King, John McKernan, Joseph Brennan and
> James Longley - has won at least one election by less than a majority
> vote.
> King won with 36 percent of the vote in 1994 in a four-way race.
> Baldacci last November failed to win a majority vote in a three-way race
> with Republican Peter Cianchette and Green Party candidate Jonathan
> Carter.
> Instant runoff voting would create election results that "truly reflect
> the
> will of the people," said Thomas Bull, D-Freeport, the bill's sponsor.
> The bill's supporters, who failed to win legislative support two years
> ago,
> are better-organized this year, and their list of co-sponsors include
> House
> Majority leader John Richardson, D-Brunswick, and Senate President Beverly
> Daggett, D-Augusta. Three other legislators submitted similar bills.
> The opposition includes Maine Municipal Association and the Maine Town and
> City Clerks Association. Both groups believe the proposal would confuse
> voters, cause municipalities to spend money to reprogram their
> ballot-counting machines, and make the job of hand-counting ballots even
> more daunting.
> "The process being presented to you is easier said than done," said MMA
> lobbyist Kate Defour at a public hearing Tuesday before the Committee on
> Legal and Veterans Affairs.
> The instant runoff method works by simulating the ballot counts that would
> occur if all voters participated in a series of run-off elections. Voters
> are allowed to rank candidates according to their preference. If a
> candidate gets more than 50 percent of the votes, he or she is declared
> the
> winner. But if nobody gets a majority, the candidate with the fewest
> first-choice votes is eliminated and the second-choice votes designated by
> that candidate's supporters are distributed accordingly to the remaining
> candidates.
> The process continues until one candidate receives a clear majority.
> The Vermont Legislature, which has been studying the issue for several
> years, is poised to enact the method this year. Vermont Secretary of State
> Deborah Markowitz, an advocate for the new system, believes it will reduce
> negative campaigning because candidates will reach out to supporters of
> other candidates in search of second preferences.
> Arn Pearson, executive director of the Maine Citizen Leadership Fund,
> agrees. "It takes away the whole incentive to tear the other guy down," he
> said.
> >From an academic position, the method is winning converts. The American
> Political Science Association concluded that instant runoff is the most
> efficient and democratic election system and adopted it to elect the
> group's own leaders.
> Cambridge, Mass. and San Francisco have adopted instant runoff voting, but
> no state or county has used the method to elect state or federal
> candidates. Julie Flynn, the Maine Secretary of State's deputy director,
> told the legislative committee that the method does not have a proven
> history of working in a complicated place like Maine, which has 647
> precincts and 328 official ballot styles. She said 79 percent of the
> state's municipalities hand count ballots.
> Establishing such a system in Maine, she said, would require extensive
> study.
> ----
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