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Instant Runoff Voting What It Might Mean for Minneapolis

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1 Instant Runoff Voting What It Might Mean for Minneapolis
Improving Democracy 1, 2, 3 Councilmember Lilligren: Welcome to the Minneapolis City Council’s study session on Instant Runoff Voting…Introduce Susanne Griffin. Susanne Griffin: Describe how the study session came about. Study Session of the Minneapolis City Council April 22, 2005

2 Session Organizers Session Sponsors: Dan Niziolek Robert Lilligren
Convenor: Robert Lilligren Presenters: Susanne Griffin Jeanne Massey Tony Solgård Susanne Griffin - Assistant City Clerk/Director of Elections Also presenting today are: Jeanne Massey - Resident of Minneapolis, Ward 8 Active in neighborhood and community issues Interested in better government and improved democracy Tony Solgård - President, FairVote Minnesota Active in research, education & advocacy about voting methods for 14 years. Author of: “Municipal Voting System Reform,” published in Bench & Bar of Minnesota in October 2002, “Gridlock!: No-Contest Elections 2004”, published by FairVote Minnesota, and many op-ed articles in the Star Tribune and the state’s other major daily newspapers FairVote Minnesota, founded in 1997, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that educates the public about how voting methods affect the quality of our democracy

3 Session Overview Part 1) What is Instant Runoff Voting?
Why use Instant Runoff Voting? Part 2) How does Instant Runoff Voting work? Part 3) Demonstration election Susanne - Good morning and welcome to this study session on Instant Runoff Voting. For the viewing public, I am Susanne Griffin, Director of Elections for the City of Minneapolis. My primary responsibility in the City Clerk’s Office is to serve the voters in Minneapolis by conducting elections that facilitate the maximum participation in the voting process. Since our topic today deals with elections, I was asked to participate in this session. Cities across the country from California to Vermont are deciding to conduct elections using the ranked voting method or sometimes called Instant Runoff Voting. Our study session today is designed to provide council members and the viewing public with information about Instant Runoff Voting. Presenting information along with myself are Tony Solgard from Fair Vote, MN, Jeanne Massey. In today’s session we’ll discuss what instant runoff voting is, and how it works. We’ll conduct a demonstration instant runoff election, discuss where this method of voting is being used and how it’s working out. We’ll discuss how it affects campaigns and finally, what it would take to implement here in Minneapolis. After each section on the agenda we have allotted time for discussion and questions. With that, we’ll start with Jeanne.

4 Session Overview Part 4) Where is Instant Runoff Voting used? How well is it working? Part 5) How might Instant Runoff Voting change campaigning? Part 6) What would it take to implement Instant Runoff Voting in Minneapolis?

5 What is Instant Runoff Voting?
Part 1 What is Instant Runoff Voting? Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) is a ranked-ballot voting method that assures the majority of voters will choose the winner when there are more than two candidates for a single office. Jeanne – Describe experiences leading to interest in IRV. Growing dissatisfaction with the electoral process and outcomes, especially at the state and federal level The last two governors were elected by significantly fewer than half of the voters The problems of “spoiler” candidates and wasted votes The limited range and level of political debate and discourse Concern about low voter turnout, in particular for municipal elections. Our current two-step voting process (primary and general elections) is a barrier to fuller voter participation. In the following slides I will describe how IRV addresses these concerns. While just one of many electoral reforms, IRV alone cannot resolve the various problems with our election system. We need to see additional reforms as well, but IRV is an important and doable one.

6 Why use Instant Runoff Voting?
Part 1 Why use Instant Runoff Voting? Higher voter turnout IRV combines nonpartisan primary with November general election, when voter turnout is highest. Leading scholars say IRV contributes to moderately higher voter turnout compared to Plurality Voting. Low voter turnout is one of the most significant problems that IRV helps to fix in municipal elections. Average voter turnout for municipal primary elections was just 18% in 1997 and 27% in 2001; average turnout for the general election in those years was 47% and 41%, respectively. IRV was passed and implemented in San Francisco to fix the problem of general election runoffs when the general runoff didn’t result in a candidate with a majority of the votes. The runoff was expensive to hold; was expensive to candidates who had to continue campaigning; and attracted a much smaller share of the voters compared to the general election. The election process in Minneapolis is the reverse of San Francisco’s, with a primary runoff before the general election, but it has the same problems as a post general election runoff – additional expense to the city and candidates and low voter turnout. IRV can fix these problems. As a city our goal should be to maximize voter turnout and participation in the electoral process. IRV can help do this at the local level. At the state or federal level, primaries would not be eliminated because there is still a need to select party candidates. IRV does not impact or change party endorsement processes.

7 Why use Instant Runoff Voting?
Part 1 Why use Instant Runoff Voting? Saves taxes Minneapolis would save approximately $200,000 in the election year by eliminating the primary runoff election. Susanne will address later in the presentation the issue of what happens if some, but not all, of the offices on the primary ballot are elected through the use of IRV.

8 Why use Instant Runoff Voting?
Part 1 Why use Instant Runoff Voting? Ensures a candidate wins with a majority of voter support Three candidates for single office can result in winner chosen by less than 50% of voters The lack of a winner with majority support results in the unconfirmed mandate problem – 11 of 13 statewide offices have been filled by less than a majority. Their mandate is in doubt.

9 Why use Instant Runoff Voting?
Part 1 Why use Instant Runoff Voting? No more spoilers and wasted votes Similar candidates can divide the majority, resulting in the election of a candidate opposed by majority. Voters are empowered to vote sincerely, without strategic dilemmas, eliminating the ‘wasted’ vote problem. The ‘spoiler’ problem is a concern of Republicans and Democrats addressed by Instant Runoff Voting. Voters may be conflicted by the need to strategize how to cast a meaningful and yet effective vote, the dilemma of whether to vote sincerely or defensively -- the ‘wasted’ vote problem which plagues third parties and suppresses their true level of support in the electorate. These are all different slices of the same apple, namely, “How do we provide for fair and accurate representation of the voters and uphold the principle of majority rule?”

10 Why use Instant Runoff Voting?
Part 1 Why use Instant Runoff Voting? Expanded political process IRV accommodates a wider diversity of political opinion on the ballot. IRV more accurately tallies voter support for minority platforms. By solving the problems of spoiler candidates and wasted votes, IRV provides the opportunity for third parties to participate on a more level playing field in the electoral process. This creates the opportunity for a wider diversity of political opinion during the campaign process and on the ballot. It also ensures that voter support for minority platforms is accurately tallied on election day.

11 Why use Instant Runoff Voting?
Part 1 Why use Instant Runoff Voting? Campaign finance reform Without a primary election, candidates won't have to raise and spend as much money, supporting the goals of campaign finance reform.

12 Why use Instant Runoff Voting?
Part 1 Why use Instant Runoff Voting? Better campaigns Coalition-building will be encouraged and negative campaigning discouraged by the incentive to appeal for number two rankings from the supporters of other candidates. Citizens are increasingly concerned about negative campaigning, polarized debate, partisan gridlock, and a general coarsening of public discourse. As will be explained in more detail shortly, Instant Runoff Voting will give us all an incentive to behave better. For all these reasons - while IRV is not a perfect voting method (none is) and it may have challenges in the mechanics of implementation - it has been demonstrated to be a successful voting method and is worthy of further study and consideration for use in our local elections.

13 Part 2 How does IRV work? Sample Ranked Ballot: Rank the candidates in order of preference

14 Part 2 Strategic Voting? Ranking a different 2nd and 3rd choice will not hurt your 1st choice -- because your vote goes to your lower choice only if your higher choice has lost Ranking your favorite candidate three times will not help that candidate Ranking only a single candidate (“bullet voting”) will not give an advantage to that candidate. And if your first choice is eliminated, you will no longer participate in the runoff.

15 Count Voters’ First Choices Eliminate Last Place Candidate
Part 2 How does IRV work? Count Voters’ First Choices Recount All Ballots Recount All Ballots Does One Candidate Have a Majority? Does One Candidate Have a MAJORITY? NO Eliminate Last Place Candidate YES Winner! Count Finished

16 Step One: Count all the FIRST CHOICES
Part 2 Step One: Count all the FIRST CHOICES First Choice Totals in a Sample Election with Four Candidates

17 First Choice Totals in a Sample Election with Four Candidates
Part 2 Step Two: Does any candidate have a majority of first choices? (Majority is MORE than 50% of the vote) First Choice Totals in a Sample Election with Four Candidates

18 First Choice Totals in a Sample Election with Four Candidates
Part 2 Step Three: The candidate with LEAST number of first choices is eliminated from the runoff First Choice Totals in a Sample Election with Four Candidates

19 Votes from Candidate B transferred to voters’ second choices
Part 2 Votes from Candidate B transferred to voters’ second choices

20 Votes from Candidate A transferred to voters’ second and third choices
Part 2 Votes from Candidate A transferred to voters’ second and third choices

21 Demonstration Election
Part 2 Demonstration Election Choosing our favorite ice cream flavor: a demonstration election

22 Demonstration Election
Part 3 Demonstration Election Rank the candidates in order of preference

23 Demonstration Election
Part 3 Demonstration Election

24 Where is IRV used? Part 4 Internationally Australia Ireland Malta*
Papua New Guinea London . In the United States San Francisco CA Cambridge MA* Louisiana overseas absentees *Included here are jurisdictions using the IRV-related proportional representation form of ranked ballots

25 Where has IRV been approved?
Part 4 Where has IRV been approved? Instant Runoff Voting has been approved and is pending its first use for elections across the country, including : Berkeley CA Oakland CA San Leandro CA Santa Clara County CA Burlington VT Ferndale MI Vancouver, WA Arkansas overseas military

26 IRV Endorsed by Minnesota League of Women Voters
Part 4 IRV Endorsed by Minnesota League of Women Voters In March, after an exhaustive two-year study that involved its entire membership, the League of Women Voters announced that the organization endorses IRV for state and local elections.

27 How might IRV change Campaigning?
Part 5 How might IRV change Campaigning? NATIONAL DESK | September 30, 2004, Thursday New Runoff System in San Francisco Has the Rival Candidates Cooperating By DEAN E. MURPHY (NYT) 1387 words Late Edition - Final , Section A , Page 16 , Column 1

28 What would it take to implement IRV in Minneapolis?
Part 6 What would it take to implement IRV in Minneapolis? Charter Change Voting Equipment Voter Education and Training Cost implications I’ve identified four major areas for implementing IRV in Minneapolis.

29 Part 6 Charter Change Statutory authority for charter to provide for the election procedures for its officers Provide sufficient detail on voting method Make IRV implementation contingent on readiness Communicate “why” to voters Put the question before the voters Authority - Charter Change – After consulting with the City Attorney’s Office, it appears that the City Charter would need to be amended to allow for IRV. Minn. Stat. § (2005) states that “[the provisions of any charter of any such city adopted pursuant to [Chapter 410 of Minnesota Statutes] shall be valid and shall control as to nominations, primary elections, and elections for municipal offices, notwithstanding that such charter provisions may be inconsistent with any general law relating thereto, and such general laws shall apply only in so far as consistent with such charter.” The plain language of the section suggests that a home rule charter city may provide for the election of its municipal officers by charter provision. The plain language of the section also suggests that the home rule charter city can provide for the election procedure. Experience from other cities such as San Francisco tells us that the Charter should include sufficient detail on how this voting method would work and what offices would be affected, and that implementation would be contingent on readiness A strong communication strategy and method of public education would be very important to communicate the “why” and “how” to voters. Finally, the question should be put before the voters.

30 Part 6 Voting Equipment State legislation regarding IRV compatible voting equipment and HAVA requirements Upgrade current optical scan equipment Current Model 100 Optical Scan Equipment Relationship with Hennepin County Current vendor application or RFP for new vendor Certification process Voting Equipment issues: Voting equipment technology is a moving target. With the passing of the Help America Vote Act in 2002, counties across the country are scrambling to replace outdated equipment after the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. There is still controversy over new DRE or touch screen technology with its lack of a paper trail. The good news is that Minneapolis and all of Hennepin County has been using optical scan voting equipment since 1987 and the current equipment since The legislature is contemplating a voting equipment bill to meet the requirements of HAVA and language has been included in the Senate version of that bill that any new equipment has a firmware option that supports IRV. You may recall that the Council passed a resolution supporting this language. Minneapolis currently has a lease agreement with Hennepin County to use county owned optical scan voting equipment. Minneapolis currently pays Hennepin County $ each for 144 tabulators for a total of $18, for This cost covers maintenance of the equipment and allows the city to use this equipment for city elections. The county owned system has component software (Unity) to do ballot layout, modem results and election reporting including accumulation of results. The ballots are prepared and printed by an external vendor. The current equipment voting in use in Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis (E S & S Model 100) is not able to count votes using the ranked system with its current firmware. Per ES&S, the vendor, the hardware, firmware and software changes, required to adapt the Model 100 for IRV are not being offered by the vendor. The reason is that they are developing the next generation optical scan equipment which will include the ability to handle ranked voting. It is unknown when this equipment would be available but it is currently in development. Once available it will be required to go through independent, federal and state certification testing. The new version will be able to count both ranked voted ballots and ballots marked the way we are currently marking them at the same time (the same election), and would include upgraded versions of accumulation and reporting capabilities. The County has a contract with the current vendor that expires on December 13, The County can extend the contract for an additional seven years or opt to purchase new equipment. We’re not sure what the county’s intentions are at this point.

31 Voter Education Public forums with demonstration elections
Part 6 Voter Education Public forums with demonstration elections Internal media - mailings, website, cable TV Public media – news papers, radio, websites Partnerships with voter turnout organizations A significant voter education program would be required to educate the public on the new voting method for city elections and that the current voting method would be employed for all other elections. The City of San Francisco has a good model for voter education which included such things as public forums in multiple languages, direct mail, TV, radio, printed materials and partnerships with local organizations such as neighborhood groups and other voter registration organizations.

32 Training City elections office Election judges
Part 6 Training City elections office Election judges Elected officials and city staff Again, a significant training program would be required to educate city staff, election judges, and elected officials.

33 Part 6 Cost Implications Ongoing cost savings by elimination of the primary election Conversion costs Equipment Education and training Ballot redesign A benefit for IRV is that it eliminates the primary which saves the City as much as $200,000 each election cycle. Because Minneapolis conducts elections for its single seat offices: Mayor, Council and Park Districts, and also multiple seat offices such as Park Board, Library Board and Board of estimate and Taxation, these savings might not be realized if a primary is necessary for offices with multiple seats. A primary is required if twice the number to be elected plus one candidates file for office. In the past 5 city elections, however, there have been three instances where a primary was required for these multiple seat offices. If that happens, then a primary would need to be conducted for those offices. Equipment Costs: Since Minneapolis would not be able to use our current equipment to conduct elections using IRV, Minneapolis could opt to purchase its own voting equipment. Exact costs are difficult to estimate at this time, but the existing equipment would have cost the city approximately $4,000 per unit based on 2000 prices at a total cost of $576,000. Minneapolis could partner with other cities interested in IRV for cost savings. If Hennepin County decides to purchase the next generation of equipment after the current contract expires, cities interested in IRV could work with the County to establish a system that works for either voting method. Multiple ballots: Voters could potentially have multiple ballots due to ballot design and layout limitations on most optical scan voting equipment. Multiple ballots means additional cost and potential for voter confusion and delays at the polling place.

34 Ballot Considerations
Part 6 Ballot Considerations Multiple ballots Ballot design

35 Reporting Results Same day results
Part 6 Reporting Results Same day results Be prepared for larger public interest in the first election Release results in steps, using graphics The results should be reported in such a way that the voters can see the transfers and understand what happened to their votes. That will help create satisfaction with the system and contribute toward successful implementation.

36 IRV Resources FairVote -
MN League of Women Voters Study on voting methods San Francisco’s implementation of IRV - IRV Q & A from Vermont -

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