Remember IRV?

Maybe it’s because my late (and much missed) dad was named Irv, but I’ve developed a soft spot for the cause of IRV (instant run-off voting) also known by its advocates as RCV (ranked choice voting).It’s the deal where a voter, facing a ballot with multiple candidates, gets to rank them in order of preference. The “Instant runoff” occurs if no candidate receives a majority of first-preference ballots. Then votes for lower-finishing candidates are reassigned to the highest-finishing candidate still in the race, until someone has a majority mandate.

FairVote Minnesota, the leading advocate for RCV in MN, took last week’s primary as an opportunity to note that the DFL primary was won by a candidate who did not receive a majority of the votes (Mark Dayton, 41 percent), and various other primaries were won by pluralities (one DFL state Senate primary was won with slightly less than 31 percent) and that current polls suggest that it is reasonably likely that in November Minnesota will, for the fourth straight time, elect a governor with less than a majority of the vote.

It that bothers you, FairVote hopes you will get behind IRV/RCV (it’s already been adopted for Minneapolis and St. Paul municipal elections.)

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Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by John E Iacono on 08/17/2010 - 12:24 pm.

    IRV has some ostensible benefits.

    The main problem I have with it is that it provides such a fertile field for chicanery, of which we already have more than enough.

    I’m not surprised dem cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul like it.

  2. Submitted by James Hamilton on 08/17/2010 - 12:30 pm.

    I fail to see the problem with a plurality of first choice votes. Better that, I think, than a majority of second choice votes.

  3. Submitted by Brian Simon on 08/17/2010 - 12:51 pm.

    “I’m not surprised dem cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul like it.”

    I suspect the supporters of minor / 3rd parties are more interested in IRV than are the supporters of the two major parties. The vested interests within the DFL & GOP like the two party system that usually limits outside influence. Instead, it is those of us tired of the ongoing series of ‘lesser of two evils’ electoral choices that support IRV, in the hope that moderation and pragmatism will win out over ideology.

    As far as chicanery goes, I think the Repubs are going to learn a lesson this year from the TEA people that the Dems recently learned from the Nader people.

  4. Submitted by Mark Viste on 08/17/2010 - 01:50 pm.

    I like IRV. But I tend to think we’d get most of the benefit by simply requiring a runoff election of the top two candidates when no one gets 50% of the votes cast. Once we get tired of always having run-offs, then the remaining advantages of IRV may be more appealing.

    And really, with 15% turnout considered high, is there really that much difference between plurality and majority in terms of electoral mandate?

  5. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/17/2010 - 01:50 pm.

    Actually, IRV works against the interests of third parties.
    Under the current system, the Independent party determines who is elected governor.
    Under the IRV (‘Hare’) system, the votes from the party getting the least votes for an office are redistributed according to their second choices, then the next lowest party is redistributed, until a candidate receives a majority.
    The main virtue is that it elects a candidate who is at least acceptable to a majority of voters, whereas the current system can elect someone who is NOT acceptable to those who vote for other candidates.
    In the last gubernatorial election, the Independent party candidate was Peter Hutchinson, who was basically a Democrat and probably pulled mostly from the Democratic candidate, thus re-electing Pawlenty.
    This time, Horner (formerly and basically a Republican) will probably pull mostly from Emmer. There are few real independents whose positions don’t overlap with the major parties.

  6. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/17/2010 - 03:21 pm.

    Mark–
    The difference between IRV and a runoff is:

    1. Expense.

    2. The turnout is usually lower in a runoff election when the election in question is not the one on the top of the ticket — say in a Presidential election year.

  7. Submitted by Kelly O'Brien on 08/18/2010 - 09:27 am.

    As a Minneapolis voter, I found RCV very easy to use in our last municipal election. We need this state-wide. It’s time we stop electing governors with only 37%, 42% or 46% of the vote.

  8. Submitted by Colin Lee on 08/18/2010 - 10:27 am.

    Paul Brandon gets it backwards. IRV only redistributes votes IF a third party candidate doesn’t become one of the top two. The most likely result of IRV would be that voters would not be afraid to make their first choice vote for the candidate that they really like most, since their second choice counts if their first choice fails. In that sense, it’s just like a runoff where almost everyone shows up. That means the most objectionable candidate would be eliminated first, not the third party candidate.

  9. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 08/18/2010 - 03:56 pm.

    I am tired of the tone that comes about when we have several candidates, many of whom are pretty good: Who is the “spoiler”? will I be “wasting” my vote? Am I voting for someone I’d rather not, out of fear? I am ready for IRV and I wish it was in place statewide for this fall’s election.

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