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Burlington, Vermont Blue Ribbon Committee Addresses Fair Elections

In 2003 the city council in Burlington, Vermont ĺ─ý the stateĺ─˘s largest city -- established a ĺ─˙Blue Ribbon Committeeĺ─¨ to make recommendations on possible improvements to the functioning and election method of the city council. Composed of former city officials from across the political spectrum, the committee issues a concise report in December 2003. The report (which is available for download) devotes several pages (pages 4-7) to the option of implementing choice voting, a full representation election method that would ensure that a large majority of voters would elect one of their favorite candidates. The report concludes that:


ĺ─˙While there was significant sentiment among the Committee members in favor of some change to the present system, there was an equal division among Committee members as to what sort of change should be madeĺ─Â..[One of these divisions] favored adopting ĺ─˙choice votingĺ─¨ or ĺ─˙single transferable vote (STV),ĺ─¨ as used by Cambridge, MA.  These Committee members noted that, according to the political science literature reviewed, this voting method would maximize the criteria of voter participation, representativeness, and voter choice that the Committee saw as priorities.ĺ─¨


As background to this discussion, note that the Burlington City Council is elected from seven wards in partisan elections, with two members per ward. The Councilors are elected for two-year terms with overlapping terms (one each year from each ward). The Mayor is elected for a three-year term. The form of the city government is a modified ĺ─˙strong mayorĺ─¨ system in which appointed citizen commissions oversee each city department, subject to the orders of the city council, with department heads appointed by the mayor. 

Also available for download as a Word document is the Centerĺ─˘s publication City Council Election Methods.


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