[EM] Vermont Lawmakers may order study of statewide instant runoff voting

Jan Kok jan.kok.5y at gmail.com
Fri Mar 17 21:39:26 PST 2006

Lawmakers may order study of statewide instant runoff voting
By Ross Sneyd, Associated Press Writer  |  March 15, 2006

MONTPELIER, Vt. --Instant runoff voting was rated a success Wednesday
by most who worked with the new system of electing Burlington's mayor
last week, but a key legislator said it probably still would not be
adopted statewide just yet.
Instead, legislators believe they'll probably order a commission to
study the more complex issues of using the system throughout the
state, with its more than 251 towns and voting precincts.
"We want to take it carefully because we're talking about a statewide
election," said Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman James
Condos, D-Chittenden.
Condos' committee and its House counterpart took testimony from
Burlington officials a little more than a week after the city used an
instant runoff when none of the five candidates for mayor won 50
percent of the vote. Voters had been given the opportunity to rank
their second, third and fourth choices and Progressive Bob Kiss won on
the second round.
Kiss, currently a state representative, said he believed the system
had been a success, both in the way it was administered and the way it
affected the election. But his unsuccessful Democratic opponent, state
Sen. Hinda Miller, did not.
Miller said it skewed the campaign and put the Republican candidate,
City Councilor Kevin Curley, in the position of affecting the outcome
by endorsing Kiss as the best second choice.
"As a candidate you're forced to figure out or your supporters are
forced to figure out how to game the system," she said. "It was the
Kevin Curley second vote that decided the election. he was the
candidate who interfered, in my mind, with the independent thinking of
his voters."
She and fellow Democrat Sandra Baird said the runoff system ended up
forcing candidates to blur their differences so they might win a
voter's second choice. "Because they were all vying for each other's
second-place votes, they were trying to please each other," Baird
said. "I'm interested in the distinction between them on the issues
and that wasn't clear."
Kiss, asked to respond directly by a member of the committee, took a
different view. He pointed out that there had been a difference among
the candidates on whether Burlington voters should favor being able to
institute a local sales tax. There also were differences on the tax
increase necessary to support the schools' budget.
"I think there were distinctions in the debate," he said. "I think it
encourages people to look more broadly at the

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