Washington, DC — At a straw poll conducted by FairVote this week, Al Gore narrowly edged out Sen. Russ Feingold as the preferred candidate among participants at the Take Back America Conference, a major gathering for progressive Democrats.
The mock election used instant runoff voting (IRV). With IRV, instead of marking an "X" next to one candidate, voters rank them in order of choice. The counting uses voter rankings to simulate a series of runoff elections to determine a winner with a majority of the vote. That means that if voters' first choice were eliminated in the first round, their second choices would still count. No spoilers.
In the first round of the counting, Sen. Feingold was in the lead. Barack Obama lagged behind in third place. In a typical primary election, the vote counting would have ended here and Feingold would have been declared the winner with well under a majority of support. Under IRV, though the counting was done instantly, it took 10 rounds to determine a winner with a majority of support:
Analysis of Gore victory: The results show the breadth of support for Gore among progressives at the conference, as he drew enough next-choices from enough other candidates to win. However, his initial tally was large enough to indicate a strong core support as well.
In addition to eliminating the spoiler effect, IRV also minimizes the number of wasted votes because 91% of the ballots went toward determining the winner. This is a stark contrast to the traditional system that would have wasted 79% of the votes.
More on IRV at: www.fairvote.org/irv
To seek comment on these issues call Ryan O'Donnell at (301) 270-4616, or (413) 335-9824 over the weekend.