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)
Urbana group seeking switch to instant runoff voting

By Paul Wood
Published October 2nd 2007 in The News-Gazette
URBANA – A proposal on the way Urbana conducts its mayoral and aldermanic elections could be on the Feb. 5, 2008, ballot.

Citizens for Instant Run-off Voting – a group of about 15 volunteers – filed petitions with the Urbana city clerk's office Friday to hold a binding referendum asking voters whether they would like to change from single plurality to instant runoff voting for elected city positions.

The petition drive was conducted from June 1 to Sept. 28, said Durl Kruse, a leader of the movement. The volunteers collected 1,062 signatures. By statute, 766 are required.

Instant runoff voting allows voters to rank the candidates for a specific office in order of preference. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated.

The second-choice votes on these ballots are then retabulated and added to the remaining candidates' totals until one candidate reaches the 50 percent threshold, Kruse said.

Urbana City Clerk Phyllis Clark said that in her experience, a binding resolution needed city council action. But Champaign County Clerk Mark Shelden said recent precedents mean resolutions can be binding even without going to a city council.

Clark said she would examine the signatures to make sure they are legitimate. She said she has until Nov. 19 to put the question on the ballot. "It's is my intent to have this question certified by Oct. 22," she said.

The ballot question asks whether the voters of the city of Urbana wish Article II of the Urbana Code of Ordinances to read, in part: "the election process for election of mayor, city council members, and other elected city officers shall be conducted by adopting and authorizing instant run-off voting and repealing conflicting statutes."

Kruse said changing the instant run-off method of voting could benefit third parties such as the Greens.

In other situations, Shelden said, the idea has been brought up as a way to save taxpayer money by eliminating primary elections.