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The Caledonian-Record

"Yes" To Instant Runoff Voting
Ellie Dixon
March 11, 2002

We are 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 good reason.

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.

But 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.

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Copyright 2002 The Center for Voting and Democracy
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