4. IRV promotes majority rule in single-seat elections

This is the main attribute of IRV that prompts this Commission to recommend its adoption for all statewide elections. With our existing plurality rules, depending on the mix of candidates, a candidate that is actually the least favorite of a majority of voters can defeat a candidate that is preferred by a majority of voters. A voting system that allows this perverse outcome is fundamentally flawed and should be changed. In a single-seat election, such as Governor, IRV assures that a candidate actually preferred by a majority can win.

This is not true if IRV is used for electing a legislature from multiple districts. Like all winner-take-all systems, including Vermont’s existing one and IRV, the majority can be thwarted depending on the distribution of supporters throughout the various districts. In the recent elections in Quebec, which uses the same plurality voting rules as Vermont, the Liberal Party candidates received 44% of the vote and 38% of the seats compared to the PQ’s smaller 43% of the vote, yet 60% of the seats. Thus the Commission concludes that while IRV may be somewhat better than our existing system for electing legislators, it also cannot assure majority rule. The Commission is limiting its recommendations to statewide elections, and suggests further study of legislative election options.

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