On June 3rd at the 2005 “Take Back America” Conference held in Washington D.C., Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean encouraged the adoption of instant runoff voting (IRV) as a way to assure majority winners and increase voter turnout. Said Dean, “I think we ought to have instant runoff voting. I think that brings people in to the polls. If there's a third party, fine. They get a choice. We get majorities that win, and it brings more people in.”
FairVote Board chair John B. Anderson, a presidential candidate in 1980, applauded Dean’s statement. “The American people want choices at the polls. We need leaders from across the spectrum to work together to ensure voters have those choices and ensure winners have majority support.”
The former Vermont governor and one-time frontrunner in the 2004 Democratic presidential race, Dean stands with a range of political leaders, including Arizona Senator John McCain and Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., in supporting IRV.
In recent months, IRV has made rapid advances across the county, including in Howard Dean’s hometown of Burlington, Vermont. The city voted in March by a landslide margin to elect their mayor with IRV starting in March 2006. Governors in Washington and Arkansas signed new IRV legislation this spring, and voters in San Francisco gave IRV high marks after using it for the first time to elect their board of supervisors last November. Students at more than two dozen colleges and universities have adopted IRV for student elections, typically by landslide margins.
Under IRV, runoffs are simulated in a single election by providing voters with the option to rank their choices instead of choosing just one candidate. IRV generates a majority winner without expensive runoffs that can cost millions of dollars. IRV also tends to encourage voter turnout, positive campaigning, and a diverse field of candidates.
FairVote is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization based outside Washington, D.C. Its IRV America program is the leading source of information about IRV in the nation. For more information, see www.fairvote.org/irv or contact Ryan O’Donnell, communications director at (301) – 270-4616 [email protected]