The Need for IRV
Oakland's election system needs reform now. Five times in the past five years
the city has had to conduct November runoffs or call a special election —
for City Council races alone. These elections are less representative of the will
of Oaklanders and often cost taxpayers additional dollars for second elections.
Instant Runoff Voting is a simple solution that will make Oakland's elections
more democratic and economical.
There are two problems with the current runoff system. First, they are
expensive, costing Oakland taxpayers $200,000 for a citywide runoff. Second,
to ensure the possibility of a runoff, Oakland's elections are held in March,
when voter turnout is lowest, instead of in November, when voter turnout is
highest. Thus, Oakland's elections often cost more and take place in a month
when far fewer citizens will have their voices heard at the ballot box.
Special elections are even more problematic. When an elected official leaves
office early a special election is called to replace them. Unfortunately, a
candidate in this race need only receive a plurality of votes to win —
which in the last two special elections in five years has meant that a candidate
was elected even though up to 72 percent of Oaklanders voted against them.
Instant Runoff Voting solves for all these problems by allowing voters to
rank candidates on their ballots. By knowing voters second or third choices, a
runoff election is unnecessary and the city can save money. Because IRV requires
a majority to win, special elections would now only elect majority-supported
candidates. Finally, because under IRV runoffs are unnecessary, Oakland's
elections could be rescheduled to November to maximize voter turnout.
Our mission is for Oakland to employ IRV for all local elections by 2008.
We hope to achieve this by having Oaklanders vote on a Charter Amendment in
November 2006 to adopt IRV by 2008.
Return to the Oakland IRV Home.