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)
Ballot moves could pre-empt town meeting

By Mike Monson
Published June 14th 2008 in Urbana/Champaign News-Gazette
URBANA – The advisory referendum battles in Urbana continued Friday with a new twist.

Two Cunningham Town Board members have called a special town board meeting for 7 p.m. Monday, where the board (which also serves as the Urbana City Council) will consider placing three advisory questions on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The meeting will be in the Urbana City Building, 400 S. Vine St.

The move could wind up pre-empting a special town meeting that had been scheduled for June 30, where two advisory ballot questions were going to be considered by township residents.

Only three such questions can be put on the ballot at one time.

The moves are a continuation of the skirmishes between the regular Democratic organization and a coalition of Greens and Libertarians.

In recent years, local Greens and progressives have been using the annual town meeting, where township voters can attend and vote, to place advisory referendums on the ballot. Many have been about issues such as the Iraq War and whether President Bush should be impeached.

But at the April 8 Cunningham Town meeting, Democratic Party regulars packed the meeting and voted down efforts by local activists to place three questions on the ballot. Those proposed questions concerned whether the Urbana City Council should put a binding referendum on the ballot asking voters if they want to switch to instant-runoff voting for city elections; whether voters want the city and township to post financial records and contracts on the Internet; and whether the city should pursue ownership of the local water system.

The loss infuriated local Greens and Libertarians, who didn't see it coming. In May, they submitted a petition signed by 28 residents requesting a special town meeting, where attendees would consider again advisory referendums about instant runoff voting and financial transparency. That meeting was scheduled for June 30.

But the special town board meeting, where only town board members (the seven aldermen and mayor) will vote, could make the special town meeting moot if the board puts three questions on the ballot. Mayor Laurel Prussing and six of the seven council members are Democrats.

The latest maneuvering upset Durl Kruse, who passed petitions for the special town meeting and who is an advocate for instant-runoff voting.

"Isn't that really dirty?" Kruse said. "I can't believe they would stoop that low to prevent the people from discussing issues.

"Our meeting should take precedence," he added. "We're going to have to get an attorney. This is really crazy."

But Prussing said the move by the town board is fair and that it is Kruse and others who keep bringing the issues up after being defeated.

"I think they're misusing the township," she said. "I don't want to have to be called into a special meeting every month to talk about the same stupid thing. These meetings take time and energy and money to conduct. If they're making the contention we need discussion, we'll put it on the ballot."

The proposed ballot questions that the town board will consider at Monday's meeting:

– "Do you support restrictions on the use of cell phones by drivers and bicyclists using public streets and by pedestrians crossing streets who become so engrossed in their phone conversation that they are a danger to themselves and others?"

– "Shall the method of election of officers in Cunningham Township be maintained as currently established so that the candidate with the greatest number of votes is elected?"

– Shall Cunningham Township continue to provide financial information and assessment information that meets or exceeds all legal requirements for full disclosure and add new methods by request of individuals so long as it will not add undue expense?"