Friday, July 9, 2010

Instant Runoff Voting Is Under Review -

Instant Runoff Voting Is Under Review -

The Charter Revision Commission, the panel appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to consider changes to the city constitution, plans to take a serious look at a proposal that would eliminate the need for voters to make a second trip to the polls for runoff elections.

The proposal, known as instant runoff voting, would allow voters to rank candidates in order of preference. If a candidate fails to reach 40%, the threshold in New York City for winning a party's nomination in citywide races, the ballots would be counted again, with voters' rankings used to simulate a runoff.

Supporters say the proposal would increase voter participation and save taxpayers millions of dollars. --->>>


  1. The important phrase is "simulate"; if you don't rank the right candidates (the last ones to be eliminated), than you lose out on the chance to have your say, which you would have had in a "normal" runoff.

    Also, Minneapolis has found that costs don't go down; even ignoring one-time costs, IRV has *increased* cost by about 20%. Sure, separate runoffs are expensive; but since they happen less than 20% of the time, the long-run average cost is still lower.

    And there's no evidence to suggest that IRV increases participation either. Actually, under the right circumstances, a voter can end up with a *better* outcome in the election by staying home, rather than going out and voting their conscience; another one of the "quirks" that IRV's supporters creatively neglect to mention...

    Approval voting and score voting are better systems.

  2. IRV prevents higher turnout because there's no way there can be more voters in the "runoff" with IRV like there is in traditional runoffs.

    IRV may even depress turnout:

    November 26, 2009 Minneapolis' first instant runoff voting election on Nov 3 had the lowest turnout since 1902

  3. The New York proposal is focused on IRV for primaries, replacing citywide runoffs.

    Primary runoff elections nearly always result in declines in turnout -- of the 116 regularly scheduled primary runoffs between 1994 and 2008, turnout declined in 113 of them, on average by more than 30%. See:

    More broadly, turnout is a product of voters believing their participation matters in an election that matters to them. Factors other than IRV affect that. For instance, Minneapolis had relatively low turnout in 2009, but its neighboring city St. Paul had an even steeper decline in turnout in 2009 for exactly the same reason -- the mayor's race and most other races weren't very competitive. IRV at least put the decisive choice in one election, avoiding the need for the much lower turnout of a second election.