Instant run-off voting gaining ground in United States

November 25th, 2006 | by Andrew Ó Baoill |

A New America Foundation press release points to the recent successes of movements for instant runoff voting across the US:

In California, where San Francisco became the state’s first Instant Runoff Voting city in 2004, voters in the cities of Oakland and Davis approved the idea, which would allow voters to rank their first, second, and third choices for office. Oakland overwhelmingly supported the measure by 68% of the returns, meaning voters will use Instant Runoff Voting for all local offices in November 2008. The Davis measure was an advisory recommendation.

Elsewhere, voters in Minneapolis passed their ballot measure with 65% support. And in Pierce County, Washington, voters supported the move to IRV for their partisan county elections with 54% of the vote.

Coming to the US the overwhelming reliance on plurality voting – and the lack of understanding of the relative merits of other systems – was expected, but still disturbing. It’s good to see others gain ground. Instant run-off voting is essentially a simple form of the single transferrable vote, with single seat constituencies. I wonder if there might be any chance of instant run-off voting being approved in Champaign County, or even just Urbana – the state constitution seems to indicate it would require a referendum of the affected area.

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