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Berkeley chooses IRV 

(press release)

March 3, 2004

Voters in Berkeley Support Instant Runoff Voting by 72-28% and Majority of Illinois Voters Agree with John B. Anderson on “IRV for President”

Washington, DC – March 3, 2004 – Instant runoff voting, the ranked-choice method of voting favored by Robert’s Rules of Order and used to assure majority winners in a single election, received a strong boost Tuesday when voters in Berkeley, California overwhelmingly supported a ballot measure to authorize the city to enact the innovative voting method. The victory comes on the heels of a telephone survey of likely votes in the upcoming Illinois primary in which a majority of respondents expressed support for instant runoff voting in presidential elections.

John B. Anderson, the former congressman and presidential candidate who heads the Center for Voting and Democracy, applauded the win. “Berkeley’s victory is the latest indication that voters want to say more about their choices – and have better choices.” Anderson recently wrote a commentary about instant runoff voting and Ralph Nader’s presidential candidacy that has appeared in the leading dailies in Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Sacramento and Charlotte (NC). 

According to a Metro Chicago Information Center telephone survey commissioned last month by the Center for Voting and Democracy, a clear majority of 1,100 likely voters in the state’s March 16 primary would like to use instant runoff voting in presidential elections in November, and a plurality would like to use it in primary elections. More than 50% of voters answered yes when asked “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?” 

The Illinois poll also asked respondents for their full preferences in the state’s U.S. Senate primary contests and the presidential race. This information about voters’ second and third choices provides revealing information. For example, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry not only was the big frontrunner among first choices. He also was the second choice of four out of five of supporters of Sen. John Edwards and the second choice of 70% of supporters of the remaining presidential candidates. Full poll results are available at

With instant runoff voting, voters rank their favorite candidate first, and then can indicate which candidates are their second and third choices. A candidate wins with a majority of first choices, but if there is no initial majority winner, the weak candidates are eliminated. These ballots are then counted for their top-ranked choice who has advanced to the second round – simulating a traditional two-round runoff, but without added costs. Two dozen states have considered legislation on instant runoff voting. Backers include former presidential candidate Howard Dean and Arizona Republican Senator John McCain. 


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