Legislature: Overhaul of Voting Calls
for Instant Runoffs
By David Ammons
February 28, 2001
A bipartisan group of senators says that when it
comes to overhauling Washington's elections, IRV may know best.
IRV, as in instant runoff voting.
That system, currently
used in Australia and other countries, would eliminate the need for
primaries or runoffs by allowing voters to pick their top choice for
each office, along with a rank order for the rest of the candidates.
All of the first-place votes would be tallied, and if no one
had a majority, the last-place candidate would be eliminated and his
or her votes redistributed according to voters' rankings of the
This instant runoff process would continue until
the computers showed someone with more than 50 percent.
sounds complicated, but it's no different from the way Major League
Baseball's best valuable player is selected, says Sen. Bill
Senate Bill 5338 is sponsored by
Senate Judiciary Chairman Adam Kline, D-Seattle, and co-sponsored by
Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, Dan Swecker, R-Rochester, and
The new system would be used for picking the
Legislature, the state's delegation in Congress, president and the
state judiciary. The statewide executive positions, including
governor, would continue to be elected under the old system.
Cities and counties would be allowed to adopt a similar IRV
Kline said the proposal would eliminate "spoiler"
candidates and make sure that officeholders are elected with at
least 50 percent of the vote.
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