Ranked choice voting methods chalk up new wins in NC, more

by Rob Richie // Published July 19, 2008
Instant runoff voting and its ranked choice voting cousin, the choice voting method of proportional voting, are making key progress in the United States. Examples:

1. In North Carolina, the state legislature has sent to the governor legislation that would extend the current pilot program for localities for three more years. It included two amendment that strengthen the bill: confirming that jurisdictions will only use instant runoff voting if they choose to adopt it and establishing a process to ensure instant runoff voting elections are run securely and well. In 2007, four cities agreed to participate in the pilot, two of which (Cary and Hendersonville) ran highly successful IRV elections. See NC Votes 1-2-3, a strong coalition of organizations and individuals supporting IRV in North Carolina; a recent addition is the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, which endorsed IRV in May after an extensive review process.

2. In Memphis, Tennessee (the second largest city in the southeastern United States), a charter commission has placed a measure on the November ballot to establish instant runoff voting. We expect other instant runoff voting ballot measures as well.

3. In Long Beach, California, the supervisor of elections has suggested instant runoff voting as a sensible solution to its current problematic runoff system. The Long Beach Press Telegram has endorsed the idea.

4. The five leading candidates for president on the November ballot all have been active supporters of instant runoff voting: presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama (prime sponsor of pro-IRV legislation when in the Illinois state senate in 2002), presumptive Republican nominee John McCain (recorded telephone message on behalf of IRV in a 2002 campaign), Green Party nominee Cynthia McKinney (prime sponsor of IRV legislation when in the U.S. Congress), Libertarian Party nominee Bob Barr (backer of IRV on his radio program and in his 2008 platform) and independent candidate Ralph Nader (backer of IRV on the campaign trail).

5. The choice voting method of proportional representation is being promoted for Cincinnati city council elections by the Cincinnati NAACP and by FairVote, as represented by the Brennan Center for Justice, in a federal voting rights lawsuit in Port Chester, New York. Cincinnati advocates of choice voting are currently working to place the measure on the November 2008 ballot, while Brennan Center attorney Myrna Perez is scheduled to present FairVote's amicus briefs in the Port Chester case later this month.

6. The nation's only student think tank, the Roosevelt Institution's new 25 Ideas for Electoral Reform publication features two proposals for instant runoff voting. FairVote has identified 43 colleges and universities in the United States where students have adopted instant runoff voting for their elections; far more colleges and universities have IRV for student elections overseas.