Monday, February 19, 2007

Voter Confusion

Many people in Washington State who are uncomfortable with Ranked Choice Voting (or Instant Runoff Voting (IRV)) worry the voters of Washington will be confused by this new system of voting. As a proof of this, they note that the counties of Washington had a spoilage rate of 9-11% of the new pick-a-party primary ballots this past September. There is another way to look at this information.

This past fall, San Francisco and Burlington, VT had spoilage rates of 0.4% and 0.1% respectively in their IRV elections. Voters in these two cities handled the IRV ballot quite well.

Either the pick-a-party primary system is far more confusing than IRV or the voters of San Francisco and Burlington are smarter than the voters of Washington. The former assertion seems more reasonable to me.

The state of Washington has tried the pick-a-party primary system and the voters do not like it and are confused by the ballot. The state needs to look for alternatives to the pick-a-party system which will reduce voter confusion and increase voter satisfaction. Ranked Choice Voting or IRV will do just that.

HB 2202 and SB 6000 will allow the state to expand the IRV experiment in democracy to a broader group of races. Since our current system is broken, we need to expand these experiments to cover more types of races. These two bills deserve your support.



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