Local Jurisdictions to save money and improve elections
Local jurisdictions in Pierce County would gain the opportunity to save money on elections as well as have more voters participate in all parts of the process if the Washington State Legislature passes the local jurisdiction IRV bill currently under consideration.
In the state of Washington, local jurisdictions such as cities, school districts, and park districts elect their officials during odd-numbered years using a top two system. This means that if there are more than two candidates who sign up to run for a particular position, then the county auditor must run a primary to reduce the field down to two candidates in the general election. When the local jurisdiction has a primary, it must share in the costs of the primary election.
For example, the Metropolitan Park District of Tacoma is governed by elected Commissioners. In 2005, one of the Commissioner seats had three candidates sign up to run. As a result, at an allocated cost of $65,000 to the Park District the Pierce County Auditor's office ran a primary election to reduce the field to two. The ultimate winner of the seat received over 60% of the vote in the primary.
State legislators are considering a bill which would allow local jurisdictions such as the Metropolitian Park District to eliminate the costs of primaries through the use of Instant Runoff Voting.
Of course, since more voters participate in the general elections already, more voters would be participating in the entire process of selecting the officials if the entire election occurred in the general election.
Pierce County jurisdictions would be able to leverage the investment in IRV software being made by the Auditor's office to implement IRV for county level officials. This legislation would be a win-win for Pierce County voters and taxpayers.