The Colombian

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 candidates.

This instant runoff process would continue until the computers showed someone with more than 50 percent.

It sounds complicated, but it's no different from the way Major League Baseball's best valuable player is selected, says Sen. Bill Finkbeiner, R-Kirkland.

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 Finkbeiner.

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 process.

Kline said the proposal would eliminate "spoiler" candidates and make sure that officeholders are elected with at least 50 percent of the vote.



Coalition for IRV: