Instant Runoff Voting and Proportional Voting Rob Richie Executive Director, FairVote www.fairvote.org
FairVote Researches and develops innovative reform policies Board chairman is John B. Anderson, former Congressman and presidential candidate Non-partisan and non-profit, but advocacy-oriented Widely recognized as leading national organization backing proportional voting and instant runoff voting
Today’s Presentation General discussion of voting methods Instant runoff voting What it is and where used in the USA How it fares with task force criteria Your questions and concerns Proportional voting Candidate-based systems in U.S. citie; party based systems in many nations How systems fare with task force criteria Your questions and concerns
Instant Runoff Voting: Summary What is an instant runoff ballot Its use for overseas/military voters Comparison with runoff elections Comparison with plurality voting
What Is Instant Runoff Voting A ranked choice ballot pioneered for national elections in Australia & Ireland: Voters rank 1, 2, 3 Requires a majority to elect a candidate (typically) Eliminate weak candidates. Allocate those voters’ ballots to next choices until a majority winner Has earned support of John McCain, Barack Obama, several state League of Women Voters. Robert’s Rules of Order recommends for mail elections.
Success on the Ballot and In City Councils and Legislatures Record on City Ballots, 2004-2006: 8 wins, 0 losses Average Victory Share : 68% Used in San Francisco (CA), Burlington (VT) and Takoma Park (MD). Soon in Minneapolis (MN), Pierce County (WA), Berkeley & Oakland (CA), Cary and Hendersonville (NC ) Legislation: 2006 law in North Carolina to establish pilots in cities and counties. 2007 bill in Vermont to use IRV for Congress passes state senate. Overseas voters: Arkansas, So. Carolina, Louisiana
How IRV Works Declare a winner No majority Eliminate lowest candidate Retally Ballots Is there a majority winner? Yes No Tally All Ballots Voters Vote Their Preferences
IRV Ballots The voter is presented with a list of all candidates and has option to rank them The voter may choose to give just a first preference instead of ranking choices.
An Example of Why IRV Matters Contrasting majority rule when 2 candidates run and more than 2 candidates run
Plurality: Two Candidates Winner Candidate A 55% Candidate B 45% Loser
Plurality: Three Candidates Winner But majority prefer A over B Siphons-off more votes from A than B
What Happened without IRV? If Candidate A were running against Candidate B, Candidate A would win by 10%: 55% to 45%. But then you add Candidate C to the mix, with similar views to Candidate A. Candidate B now wins by 7%-- even though a loser with the same voters in a head to head race.
What IRV is Not: “Bucklin” Voting In Bucklin voting (named after CO-based inventor), voters can indicate a 2 nd choice. If no majority winner, all 2 nd choices are added to all 1 st choices. System was used a century ago in major Colorado cities like Denver, Fort Collins, Pueblo, Colorado Spring and Grand Junction. Also used for several major statewide primaries in the South. Voters increasingly chose not to rank 2 nd choices because that ranking counted against their 1 st choice (similar to approval voting). In one hotly contested Alabama gubernatorial race, nearly 90% of voters did not indicate a 2 nd choice.
IRV in Practice: San Francisco 2004 Election: Seven city council races Majority winners identified despite big fields Studies show all racial and ethnic groups handle IRV effectively – very low error rates Exit polls show only 14% want old runoffs 2005 Election: Three citywide offices Valid ballots in most contested race: 99.6% Turnout 3 times higher than in old runoffs
IRV in Practice: Burlington 2006 Mayoral Election Five candidates in open seat election First place finisher wins 39% of first choices, then wins in instant runoff count Valid ballots: 99.9%. Lowest-income ward: - Of 1200 ballots, only 2 invalid. - 93% ranked one of final 2 candidates IRV preferred to runoffs by 4 to 1 in exit poll Low cost of implementation
IRV Ballots and Military Voters Tested solution to protect overseas voters in all state and federal election runoffs in Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina Addresses problem of short turnaround time between first round and second round. Voter receives an IRV ballot or a regular ballot with an IRV ballot. The IRV ballot is counted in the runoff toward the runoff candidate ranked highest
IRV Ballots vs. Delayed Runoffs Instant runoff voting can determine a majority winner in one election. As a result, IRV: saves money eliminates hassle for voters and administrators maximizes voter turnout in decisive election reduces money in politics reduces concern about “wasting” votes
IRV vs. Plurality Voting Protects majority rule when more than two candidates seek a one-winner office Vacancies are a good example Primary elections for open seats, such as the upcoming presidential primaries General elections with third parties and independents Addresses controversy of “spoilers” leading to election of candidates opposed by majority Tends to reduce mud-slinging campaigns among certain candidates pursuing the same voters
IRV & Task Force Criteria, Page 1 Provides voters with real choices / addresses spoiler effect / minimizes wasted votes? – Yes (qualified) Is simple/easy for voters to understand and easy for government to administer – Yes (qualified) Increases voter turnout/participation? – Yes (qualified) Fair party representation? – No impact
IRV & Task Force Criteria, Page 2 Positive/high quality campaigning – Yes (qualified) Resists voter fraud/manipulation – Yes (qualified) Balanced gender and ethnic representation – No Impact Balanced geographic /cultural representation – No Impact
Proportional Voting: Overview The international norm: Of 40 largest democracies with high human rights ratings, only the United States and Canada do not use a proportional system for at least one national election. Canadian provinces debating “PR” seriously – Ontario to vote in October. The principle: Like-minded voters earn representation in proportion to their share of the popular vote. An important history of use in American cities and the Illinois state legislature
Examples of Approaches “Super districts”: Multi-seat districts with 3-to- 5 seats, using a proportional system like choice voting or cumulative voting “Single-member district plus”: Combination of one-seat districts and compensatory seats
Choice Voting in Super Districts Used in Ireland & all Scottish cities In Model City charter as option American history See other Powerpoint
Proportional Voting & Task Force Criteria, Page 1 Provides voters with real choices / addresses spoiler effect / minimizes wasted votes? – Yes (qualified) Is simple/easy for voters to understand and easy for government to administer – Yes (qualified) Increases voter turnout/participation? – Yes Fair party representation? – No impact
Three Potential Steps to Reform Citizens assemblies: Canadian model Pilot programs: North Carolina and United Kingdom Voting equipment requirements: Put flexibility for alternative voting methods into equipment standards
FairVote Rob Richie RR@fairvote.org (301) 270-4616 www.fairvote.org