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)
Davlin, McNeil call for change to primary
Majority of votes would eliminate need for runoff

Published March 2nd 2007 in Springfield (IL) Journal-Register
Springfield's city election process should be changed to provide that a candidate who gets more than half of the votes in a primary election is immediately elected, Mayor Tim Davlin and Ward 2 Ald. Frank McNeil said Thursday.

That would eliminate the need for a runoff election later.

In some Illinois cities, candidates who got more than 50 percent of the vote in Tuesday's balloting were elected, with no need for another vote April 17. In Chicago, for example, Mayor Richard Daley soundly defeated two challengers to win another four-year term.

In Springfield, Davlin got more than 60 percent of the vote Tuesday over Ward 10 Ald. Bruce Strom and two write-in candidates. But in Springfield's system, the primary merely cuts the field of candidates to two. As a result, the official mayoral election for Strom and Davlin is still April 17.

Davlin, appearing at a news conference at the Illinois State Library on another election issue, said both he and Ward 6 Ald. Mark Mahoney would have been elected Tuesday if the 50-percent-plus-1 system had been in effect.

Davlin said he had planned to bring up the issue after the general election.

McNeil said he believes it may be possible to change the Springfield system simply by getting a federal judge to alter the consent decree under which city government was reorganized in 1987. If necessary, however, he said he would try to engineer a referendum in which city voters could approve the change.

Davlin participated in a news conference to promote a state law to allow cities with municipal elections in February and April to send ballots for both the primary and general election at the same time to members of the armed forces and other overseas voters.

As it stands, said Dan Johnson-Weinberger, a lobbyist working with a ballot-access group called FairVote, municipal elections are so close together that if an overseas voter participates in a February primary, there's no time for the general election ballot to be certified and sent to that voter.

An "instant runoff ballot" would allow overseas voters to list their preferences for several candidates for an office. That general election ballot could then be sent back with the primary ballot and used in the runoff election.

Davlin discussed the idea with Johnson-Weinberger last fall. A proposition on the April 17 ballot will ask city voters if the system should take hold in Springfield with the 2011 elections.

Thursday's news conference was to promote legislation to allow municipalities statewide to make the same change without referendum.

A Web site, www.includeev, has more information on the proposal.

Sangamon County Clerk Joe Aiello, who oversees the county's election office, said he supports the idea.