By Elizabeth Jackman
Published July 21st 2008 in Glendale Star
Supporters of “Ranked Choice Voting” (RCV) say it is, “as easy as 1, 2, 3.”
In May, the group called ‘Better Ballot Glendale' (BBG) handed in 157 petition pages containing 1,936, more than the 1,500 required to have it put on the Sept. 2 ballot in Glendale.
But that has only got them halfway to their goal. Part two is convincing the majority of voters to mark their ballot “yes” for the initiative that will be known as Proposition 404.
Advisory Chair for BBG and Glendale resident Bart Turner, who has served on numerous city boards and commissions, is working with Barbara Klein, first vice-president of the League of Women Voters of Arizona (LWVA).
The LWVA is firmly behind implementing the method of counting votes that would eliminate the need for run-off elections in November, when one candidate does not emerge with 50 percent plus one vote needed to win.
Turner explained, “If no candidate emerges in the first round as the winner, whatever candidate came in last place will be dropped out and their votes will be distributed to the voter's second choice. At some point, a candidate will cross the line as the majority winner.”
When circulating the petition, Turner said, it was the easiest sell he has ever had when trying to gather signatures.
“The benefits are significant and immediate and it preserves majority rule and promotes democracy,” he said. “There is no waiting for weeks to find out who won and no expense to taxpayers to hold a second election or for candidates to finance another two months of campaigning.”
Klein said it is completely non-partisan and gives all candidates a more level playing field.
“This (RCV) is not something that is new,” Klein said. “Also known as ‘Instant Run-off Voting' (IRV), it is being used in Cambridge, Mass., Minneapolis, Minn., Burlington, Vt., Pierce County, Wash., North Carolina, Utah Republican Party, San Francisco, Oakland and Davis, Calif., Louisiana, Arkansas and South Carolina for overseas ballots, numerous universities, and Australia, Ireland and New Zealand.”
Currently, there are no municipalities in Arizona that use RCV and Turner and Klein are hoping Glendale will be the first.
“In general, Glendale has the tendency to be more innovative and not afraid to take bold steps and lead the way,” Klein said.
In addition to the LWVA, Proposition 404 has supporting letters of argument from Glendale attorneys Garrett Simpson, Terrence Mead, Past Chairman of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce Rod Williams, Glendale residents Joe Cobb and Emily Goldberg and Vietnam era veteran Roy Erickson.
No letters of argument were received in opposition to the proposition; however, when pressed for a possible down side to RCV, Klein said a few people said they thought it was too complicated.
“I think voters are smart enough to be able to select candidates in order of their preference,” Klein said. “The big thing is, it lets people vote for who they really want to win, rather than trying to cast a strategic vote if their favorite candidate might be considered not electable.”
To learn more about RCV, visit www.FairVoteAZ.org.