"Yes" To Instant Runoff
March 11, 2002
interested to note that Wheelock was one of the Vermont towns to
approve an article in favor of Instant Runoff Voting on Town Meeting
Day. We have never favored using town meeting as a way of calling
attention to non-local issues. But in terms of the issue itself, we
most certainly favor IRV.
IRV has been endorsed by the Vermont
chapters of the League Of Women Voters and the Grange -- and for
IRV allows Vermont voters to choose a majority
candidate for governor in a multi-candidate race without tossing the
election into the Legislature.
The Vermont Constitution requires a
majority vote for governor. If no candidate receives a majority in
November, the new Legislature selects the governor in January. The
legislators vote by secret ballot. They are not required to support
the person who received the highest popular vote in November.
as League of Women Voters president Marge Gaskins has noted, IRV
would keep the election in the voters' hands and provide a majority
winner by combining a regular election with an instant runoff on the
same Election Day.
In Gaskins' words, "This is accomplished by
giving voters the option of indicating their runoff choices on the
ballot as well as their favorite choice, by ranking their candidates
in order of preference. If one candidate gets over 50 percent of
first choice votes, that candidate wins. But if no candidate gets
more than half, then an 'instant runoff' count takes place. In the
instant runoff, the candidates at the bottom with no chance of
winning, are eliminated. If your favorite was one of the top
candidates, your ballot would still count for that person. But if
your favorite was eliminated, your ballot would automatically count
for your next choice still in the race."
Support for IRV cuts
across party lines. Democratic Governor Howard Dean and Democratic
Secretary of State Deb Markowitz favor it. Former Republican
gubernatorial candidate Ruth Dwyer was a sponsor of the IRV bill
when she was in the Vermont House. Anthony Pollina, the Progressive
candidate for Lieutenant Governor, supports IRV.
We also support
Instant Runoff Voting.
Vermont had a three-way race for governor in
2000. It has one in 2002. If this is a sign of things to come, there
is very strong possibility of no candidate receiving a majority. IRV
has to be a better way of dealing with this situation than having
the governor chosen in a backroom deal in Montpelier.