Instant Runoff Voting

After checking out the campaign websites of both Doug MacGinnitie and Brian Kemp, I see that both want to “cut costs” for Georgia taxpayers.  Yet, neither of them mention (at least on their websites) where they stand on Instant Runoff Voting, a concept that can save the state countless amounts of time and money by eliminating the need for costly runoff elections.

I have not really paid much attention to this race.  So if one of them has come out with a position on the issue, I may have missed it.  I was hoping the supporters of each candidate can respond in the comments as to where your candidate of choice stands on the issue.  Thanks.


  1. It’s hard for big-2 partisans to get behind any sort of voting reform unless it clearly benefits their party more than the other one.

    Democrats were big on Motor Voter registration in the 90’s, and occasionally push for online or weekend voting today, because they figure that lazy people (i.e. their core demographic) will be more likely to vote in such cases. Republicans usually oppose such things for the same reasons.

    Going the other way, Republicans tend to be far more aggressive about absentee ballots and military voting. Those things are seen as more favorable to them.

    But IVR? The only politicians that would be of help to are smaller figures, lesser-funded and more moderate candidates. It completely runs against the grain of the current paradigm, which favors the most well-connect candidates who raise the most funds. It’s hard to ask elected officials to turn away from the system that put them in power to begin with.

    • benevolus says:

      Lazy people? You are an ass. It’s the workers who would have a better chance to vote. Your Republican suburban housewives and bank executives can go vote whenever they want. But there are guys out in front of my building working on the gas line today. If election day was today only they might have a tough time getting to go.
      You are lazy- intellectually. Or just stupid perhaps.

      • You should mention to those gas line workers in front of your building that early voting for the July primary started a week or so back, and absentee ballots are available as well. They have over a full month to vote. If they still can’t be bothered… then hey, the shoe fits.

        • benevolus says:

          I know that Steve. That’s why I said “today only”. Those extra days have been added over recent years to give those lazy workers a chance to vote.
          The shoe fits somebody around here.

          • c_murrayiii says:

            Even prior to early voting, if you couldn’t find the time between 7am and 7pm to vote, you are either lazy or it doesn’t matter enough to you. If you work 12 hour days, I’m sure your boss wouldn’t mind a 30min-hour delay for voting. In fact, they are required to give you time off to vote. So those poor “workers” have just as much a chance to vote as those “suburban housewives and bankers”. A bit sexist too aren’t we benevolus, as if suburban housewives just sit around waiting for the hubby to come home…

            • benevolus says:

              Yeah, that would be good; have the guys walk off the job while fixing a gas line so they can go vote. Idiot.

              So you think we should go back to the old way with only one day to vote? Kind of weed out the riff-raff that way?

              • one n done says:

                Your argument started off strong and just got worse and worse. If they can’t find time throughout throughout the month of early voting and the day of, then it really doesn’t matter to them, simple as that. You mention “day only voting” which doesn’t exist anymore so there is no point in even bringing it to the argument. And no one said “step of the job and leave that leaking oil mane to go vote” did they? Your argument is childish

                • benevolus says:

                  I don’t think we disagree.
                  “doesn’t matter to them” is not the same as “lazy”.
                  There is no reason for voting to be difficult at all. We’re not supposed to make it hard to prevent some people from voting. It should be as easy as possible. It’s a RIGHT.

                  • c_murrayiii says:

                    Benevolus is, in general, childish. Its a either a symptom or the source of his ridiculous view of politics. I never said they should leave the gas line leaking, but I also doubt it would take one crew staying out there for 12 straight hours to fix it. So your point is the only thing that’s idiotic. And it’s not so much about weeding out the riff raff (which you’d probably consider to be suburban women, since you think they just sit at home all day). Its about weeding out uninformed, uninterested voters. The founders intended the republic to be upheld by informed voters, electing the best and brightest as their representatives.

                    • benevolus says:

                      “The Founders”???? Are you serious? Are you really going to bring in the “The Founders “view of who should vote?

                    • c_murrayiii says:

                      You can’t address a single point anyone makes in a valid way. You just make an insulting retort that proves nothing, but that I’m sure you think is just great. Seriously, are you like a high school kid? Maybe a know-it-all college sophomore. Because that is how you come across.

                      But yeah, to get to your “point” I do suggest we observe, in some small part, what the founders wanted voters to be. I mean, having informative citizens is part of the reason for the protections afforded the press and speech in the bill of rights. We may not want to limit voting to the race and incomes the founders wanted, but their idea of an informed and active citizenry is a noble goal. Unless of course you’re a politician or a of a political persuasion that preys on ignorance to enhance personal power.

                    • benevolus says:

                      The way to get an informed citizenry is not to limit their access to the polls. The way to get an informed citizenry is to inspire and inform them.

                  • I can’t tell if there’s an actual point in all this which hasn’t become moot due to early voting… or if the guy’s just peeved that I used the word “lazy” rather than “apathetic” about 12 levels back.

                    Fine… the Dems’ core constituency is more prone to “apathy”. Have a nice weekend.

                    • benevolus says:

                      The point is you appear to be opposed to Saturday voting. I guess I would like to know why.

                    • I am not opposed to Saturday voting. I simply don’t care one way or the other, given that anyone who feels like voting has an entire month to do so by early vote or by mail.

                      All I said in the original comment was that the GOP pushes absentee ballots in the military, because they think it benefits them at the Dems’ expense. The Dems push online or weekend voting, because they think it would benefit them at the GOP’s expense. Instant Runoff Voting (the subject of this thread and the point I was actually talking about), isn’t really pushed by either side because they don’t see it as benefiting them at the other’s expense.

                    • benevolus says:

                      Now THAT is a much more reasonable statement, one that I can agree to.
                      Your earlier comment insulted Dems as being lazy and Dem leadership by assuming they too believe Dems are lazy.

                      I know this isn’t, but they do let me challenge stuff here, so I do.

                    • Soulja Boy says:


                      Were you born yesterday? The Democratic Party’s core constituency are lazy, uneducated people who can be easily tricked in to believing that Government can solve all problems. Democrats are poverty pimps, whose power is dependent upon keeping those poor, uneducated, lazy “people” as dependent as possible for as long as possible.

                      You’ll understand once you get a little older and start paying taxes and actually making a contribution to society.

    • Runoffs cost taxpayer quite a bit of money and coupled with the extremely low turnout (in runoffs) and I think IRV is an idea worth examining.

      Also, IVR would change the way people in multi-candidate races campaign. There would be a big advantage to being the #2 choice of other candidates supporters – they’d be less likely to run a scorched earth type campaign.

      Did that just blow you mind Steve? 🙂

  2. PaulRevere says:

    My only concern with it is the ability for “strategic voting” Say for instance Handel voters listing Oxendine as their second choice to set up a runoff with him. Well, now they’ve just put Oxendine one step closer to the nomination, instead of making sure we get the two best GOP candidates in the runoff.

      • PaulRevere says:

        That thought was poorly thought out. Disregard. Too fecking early for this.

        Sounds like a great idea. Let’s do it.

    • Ambernappe says:

      List Karen Handel as your first AND second choices. That way, you have guaranteed your vote for the best candidate!

      • benevolus says:

        Usually that is not permitted, but even if it were, you risk not having your real second choice counted, just in case!

  3. I think we have enough problems getting people to understand the touchscreen systems, and can not even begin to fathom how difficult it would be to explain to some of them how to vote in an IRV system.

    It’d be the butterfly ballot of Georgia.

      • Doug Deal says:

        Yeah, it would be easy. If there are 4 candidates, just have the voter select their choice from the number of candidates remaining after they make their selection:

        Governor – First Choice
        A. John Oxendine
        B. Karen Handel
        C. Erick Johnson
        D. Nathan Deal
        E. None of the above

        Selecting B.

        Governor – Second Choice
        A. John Oxendine
        C. Erick Johnson
        D. Nathan Deal
        E. None of the above

        Selecting C

        Governor – Third Choice
        A. John Oxendine
        D. Nathan Deal
        E. None of the above

        Selecting E then ends the voting.

        You count the highest ranked candidate on each voters ballot that has not been eliminated and eliminate the lowest ranked one until only two candidates remian and the one with the majority wins.

        If anyone cannot do that, they should not be voting.

    • Tiberius says:

      I agree with the original post. Although simple, this process will confuse MANY, MANY voters. I don’t think many of us fully appreciate the dearth of common sense and simple rational thought. Not to mention it will be viewed by certain organizations as a plot to confuse voters in a Republican scheme…

      • I think Jace and Doug both need to go be poll helpers next month, and see how easy a system we have now. People get confused very easily. I’ve never had trouble voting in my life, but every time I’ve been at the polling station someone has needed assistance – or complained they were confused. I still haven’t managed to teach my family how these “new fangled” machines work.

        I of course had no problem understanding the infamous butterfly ballot – but I’m not the average voter by most assessments.

  4. Holly says:

    Jace, I know you posted a link to me in another thread on this topic, but I thought I might as well answer here.

    I’ve watched through the videos, and it seems straightforward. That said, as some municipalities have implemented IRV systems, I did a little research to see if there were issues or anything when putting IRV into practice. Here is an example of how voting went in Burlington, VT. It looks like the biggest danger with this election was voters choosing not to list a second and third choice.

    But then I found this. Apparently, counties and provinces that had IRV are moving away from using it, including Burlington, VT.

    So, it seems that some of the counties/provinces are saying it didn’t save money, and some voters just didn’t like it. As that was happening, new counties were moving to implement it, like Minneapolis, MN.

    Given the mixed reviews, I’d like to see how Minneapolis’s experience shakes out before casting judgment.

    • KingWulfgar says:

      Really? Vermont is crazy (in general) and Pierce County, WA (outside Tacoma) and Aspen, CO are totally liberal areas. Doesn’t surprise me at all.

      I’d like to see some more info on IRV and at least give it a shot. Run-offs are ridiculously expensive and nobody bothers to vote.

      • Holly says:

        Crazy or not, Vermont and the other areas that have had IRV seem to be left-leaning. That’s not a bad thing; I think in general, liberals are more willing to experiment when it comes to voting.

        I’m not saying IRV is good or bad. I do think, however, given that several places that have tried the system have moved away from it (for differing reasons), that we shouldn’t jump in with both feet right away.

        I completely agree with you about run-offs.

        • CobbGOPer says:

          They’re definitely into experimenting with voting. They’re still trying to get dead people suffrage rights…

    • benevolus says:

      It does cost some money to get a new system implemented, so this is probably a bad time for a lot of places to change. It should save money in the long run however, so perhaps they are being shortsighted. It is disingenuous for them to say they will save money by going back because they don’t know if or how many runoff elections they will have to conduct (or they elect people without majorities= bad).
      It can also be a little confusing for voters to get used to any new system.

      • Jace Walden says:

        It does cost some money to get a new system implemented, so this is probably a bad time for a lot of places to change.

        Depends on how much one state-wide runoff election costs. If the cost of a state-wide runoff election is more expensive than the cost of implementing the system, then it wouldn’t be a bad time at all.

        It can also be a little confusing for voters to get used to any new system.

        I agree. I think any “drastic” changes to any system should be implemented incrementally. In this case, start with municipal elections and gradually expand to statewide elections, as people become aquainted with the system.

  5. Jace Walden says:


    I guess that depends of if you consider someone refusing to list a second or third candidate as “dangerous”. I really don’t think it’s any different than that same person simply not voting in a traditional runoff. Your thoughts?

    • Holly says:

      Using the term dangerous was probably a bad word choice. I meant it to mean that it wasn’t, it was benign. Voters are free to have second choices or not.

      • Jace Walden says:

        I gotcha, and I get your point about the other places having problems with the system. But there are a lot of “Westernized” countries that use some form IRV successfully: UK, Ireland, Austrailia, New Zealand, Canada and India.

        I’m not sure, but I have a theory that it might be implemented differently from place to place–which would explain success in some places and failure in others. The trick would be to model the systems that have success.

  6. mudlock says:

    Due to the extra cost of machines (or, since no such machines have been able to pass federal election quality guidelines , the extra costs of hand counting), a single IRV election tends to cost 30-50% more than a plurality election.

    Runoffs, yes, almost double the cost of an election; but since they happen relatively infrequently, the long-term average costs still tend to be lower than IRV.

    Coupled with the fact that IRV doesn’t lead to better electoral outcomes (still two-party dominated, winners do not tend to be more moderate), there seems to be little reason to use it.

    Approval voting and score voting, however, would not appreciably increase the cost of the initial election, would not require runoffs, and would lead to better electoral outcomes; win-win.

    • benevolus says:

      We already use ScanTron machines in every precinct, and every school has them too. IRV can be done on ScanTron quite easily. Yes we would need more, but they are cheaper than the machines we use now, which we could sell to Peru or Chile or somewhere to help defray the cost. And they are already approved!

  7. Doug Grammer says:

    Voting is considered a favored right and the average person will be skeptical of a change in the system unless it’s easy to understand and obviously needed. I like 50%+1. I don’t like the expense of run offs. I would be open to LOOKING at IRV, but I’m not sold on it yet.

    • Ambernappe says:

      Also, part of the favored right is to elect the candidate of which most voters approve, rather than one with the highest score. This means the candidate for which the most voters select as their favorite. IRV seems to diminish this feature by forcing the voter to evaluate the candidates remaining after his/her first choice by selecting lesser and lesser “desired” (to the individual) choices.

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