Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Minneapolis put IRV on November ballot

Minneapolis Council votes 11-1 to put IRV on November ballotMay 26, 2006--

Minneapolis, Minnesota

In a bold step forward for democracy, the Minneapolis City Council today voted to submit to the voters a charter amendment to use Instant Runoff Voting (Single Transferable Vote) for city elections. It will appear as a question on the November 7, 2006 ballot.
(Go to council agenda http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/council/2006-meetings/20060526/Council200605 26agendax.asp#TopofPage. Scroll down to Intergovernmental Relations.)

The nearly unanimous (11-1) vote was unexpected and is testimony to the depth and breadth of the educational and organizing effort of the Better Ballot Campaign, backed by a coalition of 40+ community organizations and 40+ elected Minneapolis leaders. A few council members, whose support came unexpectedly, said that while they still had concerns and unanswered questions, the strong grassroots expression of interest motivated them to move the question forward for public debate and a decision by the voters.

Several council members (Scott Benson, Cam Gordon, Elizabeth Glidden, RalphRemington, Gary Schiff, and Betsy Hodges) sounded recurring themes that Instant Runoff Voting will be more fair, democratic and civil, and will increase voter participation in city elections.

Council Member Don Samuels,who represents the city’s 5th Ward, spoke to the need to find powerful ways to engage the community in civic affairs to stop gangs and drugs from taking over our communities. He said Instant Runoff Voting would help accomplish that. The lone dissenter (Council Member Barb Johnson) did not speak in opposition to the proposed ranked ballot voting method, but rather cited her doubts about the proposal's legality and potential costs.

The campaign has presented substantive legal research backing up its proposal and addressed cost concerns with a clause in the amendment allowing the council to delay implementation for one cycle if necessary due to obstacles such as difficulty of acquiring upgraded voting equipment.

Better Ballot Campaign lead organizer Jeanne Massey said, “We’re thrilled with today’s action by the council and look forward to bringing to the voters this proposal for improving our democracy.”

For further information, go to http://www.betterballotcampaign.org/ or contact info@betterballotcampaign.org.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

IRV would have saved Pierce County $250,000 in 2005

The September 2005 primary in Pierce County cost $665,954. The only primaries held by the county itself were the Charter Review Commission races. Indeed, there were some precincts where the only races on the ballot in September were the Charter Review races. Pierce County's share of the cost was $257,697.45.

If Pierce County had utilized Instant Runoff Voting to elect its Charter Review Commissioners, it would have saved that entire amount. But there were 24 other jurisdictions which held primaries in 2005 in Pierce County. While the total cost of the primary would have been lower than $665,954, it would not have been $257,697.45 lower. There are certain fixed costs associated with holding an election that would not have gone away, so the various cities, school districts, fire districts, etc. would have had to pay a higher amount without the Charter Review races. If Pierce County were to adopt IRV for county level elections, these other jurisdictions would observe this ability to reduce their own costs and probably look to adopt IRV for their elections as well.

What impact would the adoption of IRV have on the Metropolitian Park District of Tacoma for example? In 2005, there was one park commissioner race which attracted three candidates. This meant in the current system that one race cost the Park District $65,151.41. The person who eventually won the general election won over 60% of the vote in the primary. The Park District probably would not have a hard time figuring out where they could spend the money they could save by moving to IRV in electing their Commissioners.