Election Reform Group
Pushes Again for New Voting System
December 16, 2002
There's a fresh coat of paint going on the Lieutenant Governors
office at the statehouse in Montpelier. They're sprucing the room up
for Lt. Governor-Elect Brian Dubie. But because Dubie was elected
with just 41 percent of the vote, technically he still needs to be
elected by the legislature before he can take office in January.
A group of election reform advocates are pushing for a new voting
system in Vermont. The coalition is circulating a petition asking
state lawmakers to enact a system called Instant Runoff Voting.
One of the worst things you can do in a democracy is tell voters
their votes don't count," said Paul Burns of the Vermont Public
Interest Research Group. "That's essentially what we have happening
where next month it will be the legislature instead of the voters to
elect top leaders in our state."
Burns and other members of the coalition point out that IRV
received non-binding support at fifty town meetings last March and
the current petition has received a lot of support.
"I spent about three days and collected three hundred signature
in just four of five hours," said Coalition member Jesse Rosato.
Under Vermont's current system, when no candidate gets fifty
percent of the vote at the polls, the legislature decides the
election. With an instant runoff system, voters rank the candidates
in order of preference on their ballots. If no candidate gets a full
fifty percent of the vote, then second choice votes are counted for
the top two candidates until someone reaches fifty percent. The
coalition claims enacting instant runoff voting would not require a
"The question about a constitutional amendment needs to be
addressed because many attorneys tell me that they believe it does,"
said Governor Elect Jim Douglas.
Douglas is another candidate the group claims would benefit from
the system. But Douglas is opposed to Instant Runoff Voting.
"I don't think a 'what if' scenario is the best option on a
ballot," said Douglas.