County Commisioner's Fight for Referendum 5

Sarah Buduson // Published November 2, 2008 in WREG-TV Memphis
A Shelby County Commissioner is on a crusade to convince voters to change the way elections are held in the city of Memphis. Commissioner Steve Mulroy has actively campaigned in support of Referendum 5 for the last year. Memphis voters will decide on the ballot issue Tuesday. Mulroy said, "It's just a great election reform that will save voters' time, save taxpayers a boatload of money and will also increase turnout."

Referendum 5 would change how Memphis voters elect members of the city council. Mulroy said instead of choosing one candidate for a council seat, voters would rank each candidate in order of preference. If no candidate receives 50% or more of the vote, the candidate with the fewest votes would be eliminated. The losing candidate's votes would then be given to the other candidates in the race, based on who was ranked second on those ballots. The process continues until there is a clear winner, preventing the need for a runoff election. Referendum 5 has opponents.

The Commerical Appeal's editorial board recommends voting no on the ballot issue. Even some members of Mulroy's own party, like Shelby County Democratic Party member D. Harris, has problems with the proposal. Harris said, "I just think it's confusing to rank the people you support by some numerical order. This is not baseball. This is not a batting order. This is one man, one vote."

Mulroy said studies have shown voters like and prefer ranking candidates. He says his only concern is voters' fear of change. Mulroy said, "My opponent is just inertia."