Secretary of State candidates differ on instant runoff voting

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(Host) The major party candidates for Secretary of State have very different points of view concerning the future of instant runoff voting in Vermont.

Legislation implementing IRV for statewide races was introduced at the Statehouse last session but backers were unable to win final support for the bill.

IRV allows voters to list their first, second and third choices and it’s used only if no candidate receives 50% of the vote. In the event that no one gets a majority of votes, the candidates with the lowest vote totals are eliminated and the second choice preferences of their supporters are tabulated until one candidate emerges with a majority total.

Speaking last night on VPR’s Secretary of State debate, incumbent Democrat Deb Markowitz said IRV is an approach that’s definitely worth looking at.

(Markowitz) “And in fact we don’t have majority rule. We have plurality rule and I think it’s bad. It’s unhealthy for our democracy when there’s a disconnect between what people expect and what reality is. And so when you have officials who are elected with less than half of the vote, that’s not a good thing.”

(Host) But Republican candidate Cheryl Moomey said she opposed IRV because she doubts if voters can really understand how it works:

(Moomey) “Personally I’m not for it. I believe in the one person one vote. And I believe the problem with that is there’s isn’t enough information out there on instant runoff voting including me.”

(Host) There are legal questions surrounding the constitutionality of an instant runoff system for statewide candidates. The Secretary of State’s office is planning to present lawmakers with a study of these issues in January.

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