Vermont AFL-CIO Supports IRV
September 2002

In September 2002 the AFL-CIO, Vermont State Labor Council convention, adopted a resolution endorsing instant runoff voting for all statewide elections. The resolution was brought to the state convention by the Champlain Valley and Washington & Orange Counties Central Labor Councils, AFL-CIO, which had each adopted the same resolution previously. The AFL-CIO joined a range of groups in calling for adopting this important election reform, including the Vermont chapters of the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, the State Grange, the Older Women's League, the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, and the National Association of University Women, as well as many elected leaders including Governor Howard Dean, Secretary of State Deborah Markowitz, U.S. Congressman Bernie Sanders and others. The text of the resolution adopted on a nearly unanimous vote at the convention follows.

Resolution supporting Instant Runoff Voting

Submitted by the Champlain Valley and Washington & Orange Counties Central Labor Councils, AFL-CIO

Whereas, plurality election rules in races with more than two candidates can result in a candidate opposed by a majority of the voters being declared the winner, and

Whereas, in 35 percent of all election years in Vermont, one or more federal or statewide races had a result less than a majority, and

Whereas, in 23 percent of all election years, the general assembly had to intercede to elect one or more statewide officers, due to the lack of a popular majority, and

Whereas, 21 times in Vermont's history the governor was elected by the general assembly rather than the voters, due to a failure to achieve the constitutionally required majority of popular votes, and

Whereas, the general assembly has often elected a statewide candidate who did not receive the greatest number of votes, and

Whereas, in one election year with no majority winner in the governor's race, the general assembly deadlocked and elected no governor, forcing the lieutenant-governor to serve, and in another election year with no majority in the treasurer's race the general assembly elected the third-place candidate who had received only three percent of the popular vote and who therefore refused to serve, leaving Vermont with no treasurer, and

Whereas, recent presidential elections in Vermont with more than two candidates indicate that the existing plurality election rules cannot be certain to faithfully reflect majority voter sentiment, and

Whereas, existing plurality election rules allow for a "spoiler" situation, in which some voters worry about voting for their favorite candidate, for fear that will inadvertently help elect the candidate they like the least, and

Whereas, Instant Runoff Voting, which solves these problems was recently adopted in San Francisco with the support of the San Francisco Labor Council and is used in democracies around the world, including Australia and Ireland, and

Whereas, Instant Runoff Voting has been endorsed by numerous Vermont leaders, including Governor Howard Dean, Congressman Bernie Sanders, and Secretary of State Deborah Markowitz, and

Whereas, Instant Runoff Voting has also been endorsed by the Vermont League of Women Voters, Vermont Common Cause, the American Association of University Women, VPIRG, the state Grange, and 53 of the 56 town meetings that voted on an advisory referendum for instant runoff voting this year, and

Whereas, Instant Runoff Voting will keep the election of state officials in the hands of the voters through a majority vote, rather than in the hands of the general assembly,

Now therefore be it Resolved that the Vermont State Labor Council AFL-CIO endorses the concept of Instant Runoff Voting for statewide Vermont elections.