Leaders of the Green Party of the U.S. said Monday that voters should push for, and legislators should adopt, Instant Runoff Voting, also called Ranked-Choice Voting, in all at-large elections at the federal and state level.
The Greens said that IRV, which allows voters rank the candidates in order of preference instead of voting for a single candidate, is an effective system for electing a single winner when more than two candidates are on the ballot. IRV ensures that the winner will have majority support and eliminates the alleged danger of “spoiling.”
Laura Wells, the Green Party 2010 nominee for California governor, said, “The U.S. Constitution doesn’t enshrine two parties. We demand fair and open elections in a multi-party democracy. Americans deserve the right to vote for candidates who represent their interests and ideals, without being told that only two candidates or two parties are legitimate.” Wells was part of the team that successfully fought for the implementation of IRV in Oakland.
Green Party of the U.S. national co-chair Sanda Everette said, “Greens have been calling for reforms like IRV since the Green Party was founded. In the wake of the 2000 election, Green nominee Ralph Nader was widely blamed for spoiling and enabling George W. Bush to move into the White House. We’ve challenged those worried about spoiling to demand IRV. Democratic Party leaders have ignored us — which leads us to suspect that Dem[ocratic] politicians would rather lose to Republicans than tolerate multi-party competition.”
Young Greens steering committee member Michael Dennis said, “It’s possible that 2016 will mark the end of two-party politics — or at least a huge crack in the perception that a field limited to two parties is acceptable. Those worried about the spoiler factor because of third-party participation in elections should join the demand for reforms like IRV.”
Lauren Besanko, who ran as a Maine Green Independent Party candidate for state representative, recently wrote an article for the Bangor Daily News about Maine’s growing movement for ranked-choice voting. From the article, entitled “The Two-Party Duopoly is the Problem”:
Ranked choice voting allows people to vote for several candidates in order, from their favorite to their least favorite, by assigning candidates numerical values. Their favorite candidate would receive the “No. 1” vote, their second favorite the “No. 2” vote and so on. One of the points of election reform like this should be to eliminate the “spoiler” effect, so we don’t end up splitting the vote, for example, between center-left and farther-left candidates, resulting in electing a far-right tea party Republican.
Reform like this could very well be the start of a path toward the end of a political system dominated by the two parties.
Rob Richie and Dorothy Scheeline of Fairvote have written some interesting analysis of last week’s elections that used instant runoff voting, aka ranked choice voting. Instant runoff voting was used in San Francisco, CA, St. Paul, MN, and Portland, ME; in all three cities, Greens both helped enact IRV and ran in last Tuesday’s elections. For the mayoral elections in Portland and San Francisco, Fairvote has graphs that show the breakdown of votes round by round until someone takes a majority (in Portland, Greens David Marshall and John Eder finished 4th and 12th of 15; in SF, Green Terry Baum finished 11th of 16). In a Huffington Post article, Richie and Scheeline focus on the story of IRV’s success in Portland:
Repeatedly, we are seeing RCV winners being the candidates who do a particularly effective job at reaching out to voters, often with direct contact involving community debates, local events, and door-knocking. One Portland candidate, David Marshall, said he knocked on 20,000 doors. He didn’t win, but it was ballots from his supporters that provided a particularly strong boost to the new mayor’s win total.
In Portland, Maine’s largest city, the city’s first mayoral election in decades features two candidates from the Green Independent Party: former State House member John Eder and City Councilor David Marshall. Both have been featured recently in the Portland Press Herald.
In his interview, Eder said that affordable housing would be the central issue in his administration:
“We’re on the verge of the creative economy toppling the artists and workers who helped make Portland become what it is,” he said. “We can’t lose those people.”
Marshall pointed to a record of accomplishment in five years on the council and presented his plan:
Marshall’s five-point platform includes investing in the city’s school facilities, converting homes and businesses from oil to alternative fuels, and creating a streetcar line.
Those programs would cost a significant amount up front, as some opponents have pointed out. Marshall calls them “investments.” He points to a record of saving the city money.
The election will be conducted using instant runoff voting, which Green Anna Trevorrow played a key role in enacting as a member of Portland’s charter commission. Ben Chipman, an independent State House member who is closely aligned with the Greens, is also quoted in the article about Marshall.
From the Portland Daily Sun:
Portland this year embarks on an elected-mayor campaign that replaces a council-appointed mayor with one elected to an at-large seat. Through a city charter change, voters also will choose their next mayor through rank choice voting, where if any candidate falls short of a majority, then the “second choice” votes come into play in the tabulation.
MacMillan is working on the mayoral campaign for Portland’s David Marshall, an incumbent city councilor and Green Party member seeking the elected-mayor office. Another Maine Green Party member, former state legislator John Eder of Portland, announced in February his candidacy for the Mayor of Portland.
Green Party members said rank choice allows people to vote their conscience instead of feeling they’re casting a vote on a potential “spoiler” who could drain votes away from one of the two major parties.
Non-Majority Rule in American Elections
More than a Dozen U.S. Senate and GOvernor’s Races Won with <50%
A FairVote Innovative Analysis by Chris Marchsteiner / Rob Richie on “IRV” in NC
FairVote intern Chris Marchstein has done a weekly series of blog posts this election season from the “non-majority rule” desk, profiling the many stories from the fall about partisans running “faux” third party candidates to split the vote, major candidates being asked to drop out to avoid “spoiling” and examples of how our plurality voting system fails to accommodate voter choice. Following is his latest blogpost and an update from FairVote’s Rob Richie on the first-ever statewide general election with instant runoff voting.
Non-Majority Winners and “Spoilers” in Election 2010
Election Day brought big changes this year. Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives decisively, while the Democratic Party narrowly held onto the U.S. Senate. With a majority of the nation’s governors being elected, Republicans made key gains. While the media’s narrative will undoubtedly focus on the winners and losers, our Non-Majority Rule desk will zero in on how plurality voting rules skewed and distorted several elections – and led to some underhanded campaign tactics. Continue Reading
FairVote is hosting a ranked-choice poll for Governor of Minnesota. The poll is a chance to see IRV (Instant Runoff Voting) applied in a race with several, third party candidates. The poll is at:
There are seven candidates on the ballot. In this exercise, voters may choose 6 candidates. Continue Reading
On Nov. 3rd, voters in St. Paul, MN followed in the footsteps of their Minneapolis neighbors by approving the use of instant runoff voting in municipal elections by a vote of roughly 52%-48%. The St. Paul Green Party supported the measure, which faced organized opposition from a group called the Minnesota Voter’s Alliance. St. Paul’s dominant Democratic-Farmer-Labor party was split on the issue. IRV opponents have pledged to challenge the result in court, as they did after voters approved it in Minneapolis. Minnesota, where Jesse Ventura of the Independence Party was elected governor in recent years, could become the first state to use instant runoff voting on a statewide level. See the Pioneer Press for the full story.
The Green-Rainbow Party is supporting an effort to hold a statewide referendum in 2010 on instituting instant runoff voting in Massachusetts. They need 66,000 signatures by November 18th. The time period is short, and they could surely use some help in this extremely important undertaking.
Want to revolutionize elections in Massachusetts?
Then you should hear about a ballot referendum campaign that just burst upon the scene. It’s called Voter Choice, and its goal is to change the way Massachusetts votes by implementing an instant runoff voting (IRV) system in Massachusetts. Continue Reading
Lynne Serpe, the Green Party candidate for New York City Council in District 22 (Astoria), responded to the recent primary runoff elections in NYC with an editorial in the New York Daily News championing instant runoff voting:
Holding two elections is expensive. It’s inconvenient. Voters get burned out and confused.
What’s the solution? A simple reform called instant runoff voting. Instant runoff guarantees majority winners in a single election by allowing voters to rank the candidates in their order of preference (1,2,3) on the very first ballot, rather than making them return to the polls two weeks later. (See the full article)