Nationally Known Secretary of State
Recommends Instant Runoff Voting
In June, the Arkansas State
Election Improvement Study Commission released a report recommending
various changes in election law in Arkansas. Secretary of State
Sharon Priest, the commission chair and former president of the
National Association of Secretaries of State, filed a minority
report in which she recommended the adoption of instant runoff
voting for judicial elections.
Her recommendation apparently had
been introduced too late to be debated fully by the commission (Ms.
Priest prefaces her minority report with "The following
recommendations represent areas the study commission either did not
address or left incomplete."). But instant runoff voting certainly
makes eminent sense given that the commission recommended moving
judicial elections to November, with a late-November runoff if there
were no majority winner. With this schedule, turnout likely would
plunge in the decisive round of voting. The Center has found that
turnout nearly always drops in major runoff elections in the United
States; for example, from 1994 to 2000, there were 70 federal
primary runoffs, and turnout dropped in 68 of them. The average
turnout drop in these 70 races was more than 30%.
The full Arkansas report
Below is the relevant section on instant runoff voting.
Additional Findings and
By Secretary of State Sharon Priest
The biggest challenge for Arkansas is consistency county-by county
in the administration of election law. The following recommendation
s represent areas the study commission either did not address or
My recommendations are:
1. Creation of a State
2. Uniform Early Voting Dates and Hours of Operation
3. Instant Run-off for Non-Partisan Judicial Elections
4. Participation in Federal Voting Assistance Program's Pilot Project
...3. Instant Run-Off for Non-Partisan Judicial Elections
Arkansas State Election Improvement Study Commission recommended
moving the Non-Partisan Judicial General Election to coincide with
November General Election. To further complement this move, I
recommend the implementation of instant run-offs for judicial
Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) is a simple voting method
used to select a single winner from a list of two or more
candidates. By collecting /more meaningful information from voters,
it gives them a greater power of choice and measures their will more
accurately. This process was invented in the United States and has
been used in Australia and Ireland for many decades.
Runoff Voting, instead of choosing just one candidate voters rank
the candidates. For voters it is simple to understand, they just
pick a first choice, a second choice, a third choice, and so on.
These rankings are used to simulate a series of runoff elections, in
which the last-place candidates are eliminated one by one. Each time
a candidate is eliminated, the people who voted for him/her have
their vote go to their next-choice candidate. Eventually someone
gets a majority.
In general, instant run-off counting proceeds in
the following manner: First by counting all votes. If a candidate
receives a majority of votes he or she is elected. If no candidate
receives a majority on the first or any subsequent stage then the
last-place candidate at each stage is eliminated. The next choices
on ballots for an eliminated candidate become votes for the
candidates indicated in those choices and that process continues
until all but one candidate has been eliminated.
voting option ensures majority rule, boosts voter turnout (low
turnout for runoff elections), and makes your vote count. As for
voting systems, most electronic systems currently in use have
IRV-compatible equipment and paper ballots are commonly used for
this method of voting