November 25, 2008

A New America Needs a New Election Idea

Most Americans want a more representative and responsive government capable of addressing the challenges that face the average voter as well as those facing the nation. At the same time, however, our electoral system is founded on practices from a bygone era that inhibit voter choices and encourage a politics of the three P's - partisanship, polarization and paralysis. It's time to bring our electoral system into the 21st century by adopting instant runoff voting (IRV).

IRV is not about electronic voting devices, hanging chad or a polling place process. Rather it is about fundamentally changing the way officials get elected to public office.

IRV elects winners with majority support in a single election by allowing voters to rank a first, second, and third choice on their ballots. If no candidate wins a majority, and a voter's first choice is eliminated, the vote goes to the voter's second-ranked candidate as his or her runoff choice. IRV encourages more electoral competition, solves the "spoiler" problem, enables voters to choose the candidate they really want, and encourages candidates to win by building coalitions rather than by tearing down opponents.

Some jurisdictions that have moved to IRV include Pierce County (WA) and San Francisco (CA). Memphis (TN) just overwhelmingly passed IRV by 70% for city races. Telluride (CO) also approved IRV handily and will be heading towards implementation. Other cities, like the capital of New Zealand continue to use IRV.

Learn more about IRV

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