Groups mobilize for Instant Runoff Voting

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(Host) Supporters of an instant runoff voting system have launched a statewide petition drive to encourage lawmakers to support their proposal during the coming legislative session. A diverse coalition of groups, including the League of Women’s Voters, the Vermont Grange, and the Vermont Public Interest Research Group are backing the IRV plan.

Currently under the Vermont Constitution, the Legislature elects most statewide officials if no candidate receives 50% of the vote on Election Day. Instant Runoff Voting supporters argue that it’s undemocratic to have lawmakers elect state officials and they say their plan is the best way to change the current system.

Under IRV, voters would rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives 50% of the vote, the second choice votes of the candidates who received the least support are added to the totals of the front runners, until one candidate does receive a majority of votes cast.

V-PIRG director Paul Burns says IRV has a number of advantages over a traditional runoff system that is used by a number of states. Burns says traditional runoffs cost more money and often have a much lower voter turnout rate:

(Burns) “And I encourage the Legislature to take this opportunity to really move forward in a way that will insure that in all future elections our top leaders of the state will in fact be elected by a majority of the voters in the public, rather than by the legislature or by anybody else.”

(Host) The coalition plans to present their citizen petitions to the Senate Government Operations Committee in January.

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