Instant Runoff Voting provides voters with a means to express their opinion regarding their government without concern for the ultimate outcome of an election. Their best choice and not their opinion of the least of two evils. When we understand the public to be served, we might better choose who shall serve.
This idea was introduce of the Arizona State House during the 2005 session as House Bill 2734-472R, but didn't stand a chance up there. It is important to note that the idea has legs and many who spend time thinking about better election systems favor IRV. Also, Burlington Vermont elected a Mayor in 2005 using IRV ( it worked nicely).
In Florida, after the ballots of the 2000 Presidential Election were first counted, arguments from the Bush, Gore and Nader campaigns tried to describe where the Nader votes came from. In short, the Nader and Bush camps argued that those who voted for Ralph Nader would have split their votes or stayed home if Nader had not run as a candidate for the Green Party. Thus, they implied, Nader votes had no significant impact on the ultimate outcome of the 2000 Presidential Election. Supporters of Al Gore thought otherwise, believing that Nader was a spoiler in the election. We'll never know and that's a real pity.
During the presidential elections in 1992 and 1996 a candidate without a clear majority, Bill Clinton, won the presidency. Presidential elections are complicated with the Electoral College and nationwide campaigning so the analogy might seem a bit far fetched. Here in Arizona, though, we elected a candidate without a clear majority as Governor. His name was Evan Mecham and that road we traveled in 1986-87 is one that most of us in Arizona never want to go down again.
Election Results Arizona Governor - November 1986
Carolyn Warner (D)
Evan Mecham (R)
Bill Schultz (I)
Non-majority systems like ours in Tucson and in the State of Arizona offer a dangerous set of consequenses as seen in the election of 1986. Evan Mecham ran against two other candidates in the general election and gained 38.7% of the vote. We gained a Governor with no real mandate to govern. Evan Macham later became our first impeached and removed Governor in 1988.
The common theme here is that all four of these elections had what could be seen as spoiler candidates removing any chance of a clear majority in a system without a runoff option. We need the runoff option and Instant Runoff proves to be the most efficient method.
So we can ban third parties, stick with a flawed system or we can add a valid runoff option.
This first option of banning third parties is unconstitutional which attests to the immorality of it. The second is the most likely, if history is any guide, as those in power often do not seek to change the the way that they gained their position. The third option would give voters the most power and expresses the will of the people most efficiently. Traditional runoff elections have proven to be costly, untimely and tiring, though they are far better than governance by a non-majority candidate..
Instant Runoff Elections (IRV) is left as the most fair option. This system is a ranked voting system that allows you to choose the candidate that best matches your hopes for our country, as expressed through a democratic government. It begins when you choose your first and then subsequent choices ranked in your order of preference. If you choose a candidate that doesn't make the cut, your second choice is tallied. This continues until a 50%-plus-one candidate is determined. This eliminates any chance for a spoiler candidate while it also eliminates costly and lengthy runoff elections. It all goes into play on Election Night and gives the citizenry an answer that night.
Here is a solution for Tucson
If Tucsonans vote for who they actually prefer, we can build a better city and future for our children.
All city elections with more than two candidates should be run under an Instant Runoff Voting System. That way we can better express ourselves as a people. Often ward council elections have only two candidates and won't need the system, as a clear majority winner will automatically be determined. In the perennial single candidate Ward 5 elections the tally will be counted just as before. If this system actually draws more voices into the debate causing contests with 3 or more candidates, the people of Tucson will be better served. It could also eliminate the need for primary elections, because the system allows for as many candidates as will come while resulting in a clear winner with 50%-plus-one vote.
There are three basic types of IRV counting methods to choose from...
Instant Runoff Voting, is defined as an instant method of tallying election results so that a clear majority candidate is declared the winner of an election. There are three different and distinctive ways in which to achieve the IRV goal.
The Hare or Ware System: This is the type of system often referred too as Instant Runoff. You might note that it is name, nicely, after two independent inventors.
Single Transferable Vote (STV): This method seeks to eliminate wasted votes in multi-member districts by re-tallying the votes of a candidate that has reached a mathematical threshold for victory. So basically STV conducts an instant runoff by taking votes from the top or majority candidates.
Borda Count Voting: This form of voting requires voters to make a ranked choice, but it then automatically assigns a value to the choices made. Thus, in a 3-way race, your first choice would be given a point value of three, your second a value of 2 and your third a value of 1. This is seen as a clean mathematical solution by many, but doesn't have a real solution for an instance where the winner still has no clear majority. A real plus, though, is that a voting machine company can't charge an arm and a leg for reprogramming their (our) machines. This method could be carried our by a clerk with a calculator.