Burlington Voters Repeal Instant Runoff Voting

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(Host) In Burlington, voters repealed the instant runoff voting system that they’ve used in the past two elections to choose a mayor.

VPR’s Lynne McCrea has that story.

(McCrea) Voters adopted instant runoff voting – or IRV – in 2005 to ensure that the mayor had the support of at least 50 percent of voters.

It was used twice when no candidate got majority support in the first round of voting. Second and third choices helped Bob Kiss win election in 2006 and 2009.

But the mayor has been dogged by controversies since then. Kiss says he doesn’t see voters’ rejection of IRV as a referendum on his administration.

(Kiss) "I’ve never seen it as that. I think we probably have to continue to look at it because I really do think it’s the best voting system available- many cities across the country now are adopting it. And given that we’ve had it and we’ve tonight we’ve potentially eliminated it, I think probably we need to talk about it some more so that people really understand that this is on the line."

(McCrea) That wasn’t the view in the city’s New North End.

(Crowe) "Yes on 5, Yes on 5."

(McCrea) That’s where Kurt Wright was helping to celebrate the rejection of IRV – and his victory in a bid to return to the City Council.

Wright thinks the outcome of the vote was an unmistakable verdict on the Kiss administration.

(Wright) "It’s a clear resounding message that people don’t want IRV and also a clear rebuke to kiss administration. Now, they want to talk about having a fuller understanding and trying to educate and re-educate the public but you know what? What people reject WAS a system where you need to educate and re-educate the public. That’s what people rejected tonight."

(McCrea) Wright lost to Kiss in the last election for mayor. Even though he won the most votes in the first and second rounds, Wright didn’t have an outright majority and he lost to Kiss when the decisive third round of votes was tallied.

For VPR news, I’m Lynne McCrea.

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