Sunday, July 29, 2007

Tacoma News Tribune says Quit Mucking Around!

In this morning's Tacoma News Tribune, the Insight section has two op ed pieces on ranked choice voting in Pierce County.

In an editorial entitled Quit Mucking Around, the News Tribune tells the County Council to do its job and help the Auditor to do her job and implement Ranked Choice Voting in 2008. In particular, the News Tribune tells the County Council to respect the voters. Hear, hear!

In a separate op-ed article by James Walton and Kelly Haughton, the authors urge the County Council to make ranked choice voting work and implement the Auditor's plan. The charter provides the County Council with tools to effectively implement ranked choice voting. Let's use those tools. No to repeal, no to delay. Yes to implement.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Minneapolis Star Tribune endorses IRV for St. Paul

The city of Minneapolis has already OK'ed the use of IRV for electing city officials. People of St. Paul are organizing a petition to get IRV for their city. The Minneapolis Star Tribune has now endorsed IRV for St. Paul as well. The paper is encouraging folks to participate in the petition drive.

It is an exciting time in Minnesota.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Make It Work

The following is excerpted from Peter Callaghan's column in the July 26, 2007 Tacoma News Tribune.

IRV – When the official reasons for taking action don’t make sense, it’s a good bet that the stated reasons aren’t the real reasons. Take the effort by the Pierce County Council and the county executive to delay, disrupt and even kill the instant runoff voting experiment that was approved by voters – over the objections of the political establishment – just last year.

There is nothing wrong with IRV – sometimes called ranked-choice voting – that can’t be fixed in time for the 2008 election. That’s what county Auditor Pat McCarthy says after working all spring with a task force to implement the system.

So why is the council and the executive saying the system won’t work, or at least can’t be made to work by next year? Could it be because Councilmen Shawn Bunney, Terry Lee and Calvin Goings are running for executive and don’t want to be subjected to a voting system they can’t control or predict?
And could it be that they didn’t like it in the first place and resent that voters don’t listen to their leaders?

If there is any doubt, remember this is the same bunch that supports extending the term limits of the auditor from two terms to three. No one is asking for such a change, but it just might keep McCarthy out of the county executive race next year, leaving the field more open for the above-referenced council members.

Try this: We voted for IRV. Make it work.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Implementation of Ranked Choice Voting in Pierce County

The Pierce County Elections Department has been working hard for the first six months of this year to put together an implementation plan for ranked choice voting and to educate community groups on how it is going to work. Pierce County Auditor Pat McCarthy has gone on record that her organization will be ready for the 2008 elections. Her staff is on schedule for successful implementation in 2008. There is still much work to be done, but progress is on track.

John Ladenburg and others are trying to derail the will of the voters and efforts of the Elections Department staff. Ladenburg likes the pick-a-party primary so much that he wants to keep it instead of moving to the superior ranked choice voting method. The County Council should reject Ladenburg and his ilk in their efforts to subvert the will of the people.


Minneapolis panel discussion on IRV

Instant Runoff Voting is being discussed widely in Minnesota. In a panel discussion at Hamline University, the Minnesota Secretary of State and a variety of other officials explained IRV and its potential benefits to voters in Minnesota.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

King County Charter Review hears ranked choice voting testimony

King County residents have been testifying before the King County Charter Review Commission in favor of moving to some form of ranked choice voting. These voters want to be able to rank the candidates for office and more completely represent their views. The Commission has been taking testimony from around the county and will continue to do so for several months.

Some residents have testified against ranked choice voting since they believe it will weaken the two party system by allowing voters to rank candidates of other parties without wasting their vote. Their concern seems to be that if the playing field is levelled and the wasted vote syndrome is eliminated, other parties and independents might have a chance to be elected.

Of course, others who feel disenfranchised by the current system and would like to be able to rank the candidates without fear of wasting their vote view this as a positive event. Many voters do not like the current system for the very reason that it limits choice. Many voters do not like to have to vote for the lesser of two evils.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Proposal No. 2007-65

This proposal to the Pierce County Council would move the implementation of ranked choice voting from the 2008 elections to the 2010 elections. This proposal should be defeated. This proposal does not belong on the ballot.

In 2006, Pierce County voters voted to implement ranked choice voting for most county level elections. Being able to rank candidates is something the voters want to be able to do.

The Pierce County Elections Department has been moving forward with a well-thought-out plan to implement ranked choice voting in 2008 and will run the best ranked choice election in the country in 2008. We do not need to delay implementation.

The County Council should vote this proposal down.


Proposal No. 2007-64

The Pierce County Council is considering Proposal 2007-64 at the behest of the Pierce County Auditor's office. This proposal would clarify the filing requirements for independent and minor party candidates in running for county level office.

This proposal was put together by the Blue Ribbon Review Panel on Ranked Choice Voting and received consensus support for its passage.

This proposed charter amendment would be an improvement over our current language. The County Council should put this amendment on the ballot and the voters should pass the amendment.


Three is Better Than One

In 2008, Pierce County voters will be able to rank their first three choices in county level races except judicial races. This is a dramatic improvement over the other races on the ballot in 2008 where voters will only be able to rank one (1) candidate. See IRV in action at

Some people are concerned that the Pierce County Auditor Pat McCarthy wants to implement ranked choice voting in 2008 using software which would allow voters to rank a maximum of three candidates in each race. This software is the only software currently available to use with Pierce County's election hardware.

While it would be great to be able to rank all of the candidates in each race, being able to rank three is far superior to only being able to rank one. We should push McCarthy and our vendor to allow us to rank all of the candidates in 2010, while enjoying our expanded capability to rank three candidates in 2008.

In our current method of voting, voters are only allowed to reveal their first choice amongst the candidates. This results in wasted votes in situations where we have more than two candidates in the race. We are left to wonder about the preferences of the 80,000 voters in the 2004 gubernatorial election who voted for Ruth Bennett, the Libertarian candidate. The voters were not allowed to list their second or third choices in this important race. If ranked choice voting had been in place for this election it is almost certain we would have had a clear winner much sooner than we did.

Pierce County voted to use ranked choice voting to elect most of it public officials. In a ranked choice voting system, voters are allowed to rank multiple candidates rather than limiting themselves to just one ranking. In San Francisco, where they have held several ranked choice voting elections allowing three choices, voters have not complained about the limitation despite having as many as 22 candidates in a single race.

Pierce County should move forward with ranked choice voting in 2008 with three choices per race as a dramatic improvement in voter choice. The Auditor's office should push our vendor to provide us with the option to upgrade further in 2010.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Clallam County to vote on IRV/RCV

The Clallam County Charter Review Commission voted on July 2 to put a Charter Amendment on the ballot allowing Clallam County to use Instant Runoff Voting (or Ranked Choice Voting) to elect their public officials.

This ballot proposition will be on the November 2007 ballot in Clallam County. Congratulations to Clallam County!