IRV is the solution to run-off woes

There is an editorial in the Columbus Ledger-Inquirer about the cost incurred during runoff elections. The author claims, “…if there’s a better way to preserve the will of the people —- specifically those who bother to vote —- and the integrity of the electoral process, we’ve yet to hear it.”

There is a better way…Instant Runoff Voting.

IRV eliminates the spoiler effect that is sometime caused by third party and independent candidates and the issue of the “wasted vote,” as well as non-partisan races where there are often more than two candidates on the ballot.

Let’s use the Public Service Commission race for an example. Libertarian Paul McGregor was able to take 4.9% of the vote in a three way race, enough to put the two major party candidates under the 50% margin. Republican Chuck Eaton managed 46.3% and Democrat David Burgess received 48.8%.

If IRV was in place voters that cast their ballot for McGregor could have made a second choice, be it Burgess or Eaton, on November 7th…avoiding a costly runoff four weeks later. The winner would have been declared within 24 hours of the election. You can watch an animated guide on IRV here for a more detailed explanation.

This is another issue that the Georgia General Assembly and the Secretary of State should take a look at in the next session.

13 comments

  1. Rick Day says:

    IRV will never be allowed by The Duopoly ™.

    The power of The Duopoly ™ would be limited. Conversely, the power of the independent/3rd party candidate magnified, over the status quo voting method.

    That would mean there would be no more unopposed races for tenured fat-assed incumbents! Horrors!

    I mean – you can’t expect lobbyists to buy the Sonnys, Marks, AND the Joe Bloes out there, now!

    Pfft..IRV..I can only dream….

  2. commonsense says:

    IRV always sounds great and makes a lot of intuitive sense, but there are several logistical hurtles no one talks about. If turn out is ever as high as it was in 2004 then the lines would be far far worse since voting would now take at least twice as long. Alternatively how many people wouldn’t bother to vote with all the new hurtles? There is already a significant undervoter from the top of the ticket on down. If voting for the top took up to twice as long how much larger would this down ballot undervote become? Sure IRV would raise the vote for the runoff but would it lower the overall number of people voting. Why isn’t winning at 45% or winning with any plurality period no runoff a simpler solution?

  3. Erick says:

    I don’t like the IRV because I think it is too complicated. In places like San Francisco and Vermont (notice it’s the lefties doing this) that have tried it out, a lot of people don’t even participate beyond their first choice.

    I think the best way forward is to lower the bar to 45% in the nonpartisan elections and keep the runoff in the partisan elections.

  4. DougieFresh says:

    I do not see undervoting as a problem. There is no shame in withholding a vote. I imagine some people have not made up their minds and others simply do not know anything about the candidates. I would rather those people not simply guess.

    As for winning with a a pluralty, that is a very dangerous way to select candidates, and makes third parties have the opposite effect of what they are trying to achieve.

    For example, a fringe candidate could win with under 30 percent in a 4 way race, and 70 percent of the population could rank that person as the least liked candidate. Why should he take office?

    A third party would draw votes from the party they most resemble. Lets say the Republicans split and have 60 percent support in Georgia. If it is split down the middle, the Democrat would win with 40% of the vote.

    The only way pluralty elections might work would be with a Vote For and Vote Against system.

    In this method your vote tally is the total votes for minus the total votes against. This will prevent an unpopular pluralty winner from taking office. However, a candidate could possibly win with a vote total of 1.

  5. Jason Pye says:

    I don’t like the IRV because I think it is too complicated.
    I don’t see what’s so complicated about selecting your first choice then your second choice.

  6. The argument that IRV would be too complicated loses ground when you hear some of the stories about voter “irregularities” and realize that the current system is evidently too complex and/or difficult for some folks.

    Why isn’t winning at 45% or winning with any plurality period no runoff a simpler solution?

    I think it goes against the very idea of democracy that a candidate who the majority of the voters voted against could be allowed to win an election. At least with a 50% plus one rule, a candidate can legitimately claim to represent a majority of the voters.

  7. LiveFreeOrDie says:

    Jason Pye,

    It’s not complicated, but most people can’t figure out if they want the #1 or the #4 at McDonald’s. Choice is just too much responsibility for today’s citizens, they’d rather the government continue spoon feeding them.

  8. Jason Pye says:

    Choice is just too much responsibility for today’s citizens, they’d rather the government continue spoon feeding them.

    I reject that. I believe most people, at their core, desire to be free.

  9. atlantaman says:

    If IRV is too complicated for some voters has it ever occured to you that those voters might not have the mental capacity to decide who should be leading Georgia and the free world.

    “Why isn’t winning at 45% or winning with any plurality period no runoff a simpler solution?”

    What if you have two liberal candidates and one Conservative. The Conservative gets 45.1% of the vote, Liberal #1 gets 44.9% of the vote and Liberal #2 gets 10% of the vote. So 54.9% of the people wanted a liberal candidate and the will of the district would be to have a liberal representing it, but under your system the district would have a Conservative.

    IRV is a great idea and if it weeds out some people who can’t figure out how to put two happy meal orders together then all the better.

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