Proposed City Charter Amendment 1

New Section 9.03 "Instant Runoff Voting Authorized"

(1) Method permitted but not required: Nothing in this charter shall preclude the City Council from authorizing, by resolution, the use of instant runoff voting for the election of city officials in any regular or special election that may be held.

(2) Advance notification required: A resolution authorizing the use of instant runoff voting for an election must be passed at least thirty days before the candidate filing deadline for that election.

(3) Instant runoff voting defined: Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) allows the majority will of the voters to be determined in a single election. Instead of a voter indicating a single choice, each voter indicates his or her first choice, second choice, and so on, for up to as many choices as there are candidates. If a candidate receives a majority of first choice ballots, that candidate is elected. However, if no candidate receives a majority of first choice ballots, the candidate with the fewest first choice ballots is eliminated from contention, and the second choices of those voters whose first choice was eliminated are then counted as first choices. If a candidate now has a majority of the ballots, that candidate is elected. If not this process is repeated until one candidate receives a majority of the ballots or only one candidate remains. Instant runoff voting makes a second round or runoff election unnecessary.

(4) Uniformity required: If instant runoff voting is to be used to elect to any city office then it must be used for all city offices appearing on the ballot during that election.


What this amendment would do

1. This amendment to the charter would permit, but not require, the Vancouver City Council to choose a fairer, cheaper, and better method of electing city officials, one that combines the primary and general election into one.

2. Amendment 1 would ensure that the decision whether or not to use instant runoff voting is made without regard to the identities of the candidates involved, since it requires that the decision to use IRV be made at least 30 days before candidates must file for election.

3. Amendment 1 ensures a level playing field by requiring that IRV be used for all city races appearing on that ballot if it is used for any. Using IRV also prevents the situation where one race has a primary and others do not, again leveling the playing field for all candidates.

4. Amendment 1 would let Vancouver try IRV without committing to it in perpetuity. That is, Amendment 1 is permissive rather than prescriptive. It lets Vancouver gain experience with the method without having to adopt it for all time. If IRV is used then, unless the City Council acts to use it again, the next election automatically reverts to the current system (two round plurality).

5. Although Amendment 1 does not establish IRV, it should be noted that IRV is compatible with any other changes we might adopt. That is, IRV can be used to elect candidates at large or within wards, and can be used to elect our mayor and city council members using our current form of government (council-manager) or to elect the mayor and council members under the mayor-council form and commission form. IRV can be used to elect candidates in any single-winner race.


What Amendment 1 does NOT do

1. Amendment 1 does not implement IRV or alter the current election system in any way. It would merely provide the option of using IRV in the future.

2. Amendment 1 does not require that the city council implement IRV; it merely gives them the option to do so if they choose.

3. Amendment 1 does not require or authorize the expenditure of any funds by any governmental body or entity.

4. Amendment 1 does not affect the form of government of the city.

5. Amendment 1 does not affect the boundaries of any election.