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)
Instant replay? Activist group seeking second chance at placing advisory questions on ballot

By Mike Monson
Published June 1st 2008 in The News Gazette
URBANA – An Urbana group is seeking a special meeting of the Cunningham Town Board to consider putting two proposed advisory questions on the Nov. 4 ballot. And Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing said she's less than pleased about it.

Durl Kruse said the group, calling itself Urbana Citizens for Instant Runoff Voting, submitted petitions signed by 28 voters last Friday to Urbana City Clerk Phyllis Clark. He said state law provides that a special township meeting must be held whenever at least 15 voters file a written statement requesting such a meeting as "necessary for the interests of the township."

The group wants to place two advisory questions on the Nov. 4 ballot, including:

– if the city council should place a binding question on the ballot asking voters if they want to change the voting method used in city primary and general elections to instant-runoff voting; and

– if the city and township should post all contracts and itemized expenses on their Web sites so that taxpayers can see how their money is being spent.

"Hopefully we'll have a nice discussion," Kruse said. "They're local issues and important public policy questions. I'm not sure why anyone would oppose them."

It would take a majority of the "electors" – Cunningham Township residents who are registered voters – at the meeting to put one or both of the questions on the ballot. The meeting has not been scheduled.

State law provides that a meeting must be held 14 to 45 days after the petition for a special meeting is submitted.

Cunningham Town Supervisor Carol Elliott said this is the first time she can recall a special meeting being requested for such a purpose. In recent years, however, residents have attended the annual town meetings in Cunningham and City of Champaign townships and voting to place advisory questions on the ballot. Questions on previous ballots have included if the United States should withdraw troops from Iraq and if President Bush and Vice President Cheney should be impeached.

Democratic party regulars packed the April 8 meeting in Cunningham Township and voted down efforts by local activists to place three advisory questions on the ballot, including ones about instant-runoff voting and financial transparency.

Prussing expressed dismay that the ballot questions might have to be considered again after they were just voted down.

"Why doesn't (Kruse) just go out and do his work?" she asked, referring to obtaining petition signatures from 10 percent of Urbana's registered voters, or about 2,000 signatures. That would be enough to put a binding question about instant-runoff voting on the ballot.

"He wants somebody else to do his work for him," Prussing said. "At some point, it becomes repetitious. Why do we have to keep voting on it over and over again?"

The mayor said the city will look into the issue and determine what it must do legally. The city council also functions as the Cunningham Town Board.

Kruse said a number of local activists were dismayed by local Democrats' efforts to keep the questions off the ballot. A strong show of support in an advisory referendum might be enough to persuade city council members to put the issue on the ballot as a binding question.

With instant-runoff voting, voters are allowed to rank their preferences among candidates. Once the vote is counted, if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, an electronic runoff begins. The candidate with the fewest votes is then eliminated and the second choice on those ballots is then counted. The process continues until one of the candidates receives at least 50 percent of the vote.

Instant-runoff voting makes elections "more positive and issue-oriented," Kruse said. "People need a broad base to get elected."