Montpelier, VT. On Wednesday, May 10, the Vermont State House voted in favor of a bill to study implementation of instant runoff voting (IRV) on the statewide level by 2008. Instant runoff voting is a ranked choice system of majority voting. The House vote follows Senate passage of the measure on April 28.
"This Vermont success contributes to the national momentum that has been gathering after flawless IRV elections in San Francisco and Burlington, and from rapidly growing interest in a host of cities around the nation." said Rob Richie, executive director of FairVote.
Backed by the Senate Majority Leader, Speaker of the House and Secretary of State Deb Markowitz, the bill directs Markowitz’s office to draw up the procedures for implementing IRV for statewide elections, including for members of Congress. Markowitz’s report will be influential around the nation, as she is president-elect of the National Association of Secretaries of State.
IRV has support from all elements of Vermont’s civic community, including the League of Women Voters and the Grange. Maria Thompson, chair of Common Cause Vermont commented, "Requiring a report from the Secretary of State as to how IRV would be implemented in Vermont is an excellent first step. It is time for the state of Vermont to recognize majority rule and the importance of Vermont voters electing candidates to all offices.”
“Like the great success of IRV in Burlington, the bill is another important step towards more open, fair and accountable elections in Vermont,” added Drew Hudson, Vermont PIRG’s Field and Communications Director. “VPIRG looks forward to working with the secretary of state, our members, and all interested Vermonters in making instant runoff voting the norm in Vermont.”
Vermont has a constitutional provision throwing certain state elections to the Legislature when no candidate passes the 50% threshold. IRV can elect winners who have majority support even when there are many candidates splitting the vote, and keep the election of a governor in the hands of the voters. IRV was used sucessfully in 2004 and 2005 in San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors races. In March, Burlington became the first city in 30 years to use IRV to elect their mayor; fully 99.9% of voters cast valid ballots.
How IRV Works: How IRV Works: Instead of marking an "X" next to one candidate, voters are allowed to rank them in order of choice. IRV uses voter rankings to conduct a runoff recount to determine a winner with a majority of the vote. See www.fairvote.org/irv for more.