Illinois Poll Shows Support for IRV
FairVote, in partnership with the Midwest Democracy Center and Roosevelt University,on Feb. 20-22, 2004 conducted a telephone poll in Illinois heading into the state's March 16 primary. The poll included several questions directly about instant runoff voting.

Here is a preliminary review of results. There also was a news article in the Daily Herald (IL).

Our poll was done with 550 Democrats and 550 Republicans. We asked for second and third choices in both the U.S. Senate primaries (each major party has large fields of candidates), in the Democratic presidential primary and, for Republicans, for president in the general election.

We asked four questions measuring support for instant runoff voting. Here are the results. Note the strongest support was for using IRV for general elections for the President.

1. In some previous primary elections, the winner has earned less than 50% of the vote because votes are spread among several candidates. Are you comfortable with the current way of voting, which can result in a
non-majority winner, or would you like to see changes that would better assure that the winner is supported by more than 50% of primary voters?
         Comfortable with current way of voting-  54%
         Would like to see changes - 41%
         Don't know - 5%

2. In some parts of the United States, voters can pick both a first-choice candidate and a second-choice so that its easier to know which candidate has majority support. Would you like to have the option to pick a first-choice candidate and a second-choice candidate when you vote in Illinois primaries?
         Yes - 47.0%
         No  - 46.5%
         Not sure - 5%

3. Would you like to have this option when electing mayors and local elected officials?
         Yes  - 44%
         No  - 51%
         Not sure  - 5%

4. When electing the U.S. President, each state has a certain number of Electoral College votes. In Illinois, all the Electoral College votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in the popular election. Would you like a second choice option to better ensure that the winner of Illinois Electoral College votes has the majority support of Illinois voters?
          Yes - 50%
          No - 41%
          Not sure  - 9%

* Fully one-third of voters admit to being likely to switch from their favorite choice in the primary if they perceive that candidate would not have a chance to win. That shows the self-fulfilling power of voter perception that can boost  the power of the media and of polling and increase the odds for candidates who have the resources to spend money early and get attention as a front-runner.

* The survey of second choices had useful nuggets, showing an unofficial alliance among supporters of the top two front-running Democrats in the Senate primary -- which could lead to attacks between those campaigns, as they're going after similar voters -- and showing just how solid John Kerry's support now is in the Democratic presidential race.

* You can see the full survey here. Also posted there is FairVote's initial analysis, done in conjunction with James Lewis of Roosevelt University

Illinois Drive to Revive Cumulative Voting

In 1999 the Institute for Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) at the University of Illinois received a major grant to conduct a study of the impact of the state's conversion from cumulative voting to single-member districts in 1980. The IGPA formed a task force to analyze different electoral systems and make recommendations. Co-chaired by former Republican governor Jim Edgar and former Democratic Congressman and federal judge Abner Mikva, the task force members included leading state legislators and civic leaders.

The task force has called for reviving cumulative voting, and the Institute for Government and Public Affairs has issued an excellent report about their deliberations and the history of cumulative voting in the state. The Illinois story is a testimony to the impact of even very modest full representation plans. In this case, it still required close to 25% of the vote to win a seat in a in three-seat district, but this change was significant for a broader range of political forces to participate in elections, win representation and contribute to good policy-making.

Read the executive summary of the report here (pdf)
Local Green candidates look forward to next steps
URBANA Local Greens are looking forward to the next election including changing the way we vote.

By Paul Wood
Published November 13th 2006 in The News-Gazette- East Central Illinois

They're also savoring Wisconsin, Illinois and Massachusetts "Bring Our Troops Home" ballot initiatives that Green Party candidates put to referendum. In City of Champaign and Cunningham townships, voters came out against greater involvement in the war in Iraq.

Kostas Yfantis, who garnered 21 percent of the vote in county board district 7, said the experience persuaded him to run again.
When "838 people trusted me with their vote," Yfantis said, "it boosted my hopes that next time I can do just as well or better."

In county board district 8, Joe Futrelle won 25 percent of the vote.

He said the local Greens have two immediate goals: to build on the strength generated by Rich Whitney's run for governor, and to make reforms in voting.

"There's real surge in membership as result of Whitney campaign," Futrelle said. "We're working on building organizations throughout the state and getting them plugged into volunteer efforts."

They also are beginning a push to change county balloting to use "instant runoff" or other reforms.

In instant runoff voting, Futrelle said, voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate gets an overall majority of first preferences, the candidates with the lowest totals are eliminated one by one, and their votes transferred according to their second and third preferences until a majority candidate emerges.

"If you have an election system that kills pluralism where it ought to begin, you disenfranchise people, who have no incentives to run for office," Yfantis said.

The Greens' concept won support Friday from a surprising source, Champaign County Clerk Mark Shelden.

He likes the idea because it makes primaries unnecessary, saving money and making it easier for overseas voters, including military personnel, to be part of the process.

Shelden said a recent state attorney general's opinion said instant-runoff voting is legal for home-rule municipalities.

The Greens also were enthused by support for township referendum issues they put forward.

Yfantis called the referendum results "a perfect picture about what people feel about the war at the moment."

Futrelle, who pushed for the question about Illinois National Guard troops in Iraq, said the Greens received media coverage that helped establish them as the anti-war party.

"My reaction is cautiously optimistic," he said.

The Republican leadership is being "held accountable for some of its failed policies in Iraq," while Democrats are not proving an alternative to corporate sponsorship of politics, he said.

Yfantis said when people tell him they'll "throw away my vote" by voting for Greens, last week's results show that the party has real support.

"I want to live in a democracy where all viewpoints are heard," he said. "My donations come from local citizens, not from corporations or PACs. I'll be accountable to the people."