Wednesday, June 11, 2008

MINNESOTA DEMS ENDORSE INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING

At its state convention, the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party adopted instant runoff voting. It was one of only 26 platform resolutions to pass with the requisite 60 percent support from the delegates and qualifies for the DFL Action Agenda. . . . DFL Chair Brian Melendez, who was disappointed IRV didn't pass in 2006, is a big supporter of IRV. In an interview with Inside Minnesota Politics, he explained that IRV ensures whoever wins has the support of a majority of voters and it allows voters to vote their true preference without strategically misrepresenting their vote. His national counterpart, Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean, has also been a long-time IRV supporter. The Minnesota DFL is the third state Democratic party to adopt IRV, following the Democratic parties of Colorado and Maine. The Republican Party of Alaska supports IRV and the Utah Republican Party uses IRV for state convention elections. IRV is also a core platform of the Independence Party and Green Party in Minnesota and the Green Party of the United States. This list is likely to grow with the support of several presidential hopefuls, including Democrat Barack Obama, Republican John McCain, Libertarian Bob Barr, independent Ralph Nader and Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney.

Instant runoff voting lets voters rank candidates in order of preference on the ballot. If a candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes, that candidate wins. If not, the lowest vote-getter is dropped and his/her votes are redistributed to remaining candidates based on the second choice on those voters' ballots. This process is repeated until one candidate reaches a majority. It's like a traditional runoff, but in a single election.

In St. Paul, Minn., more than 7,000 petition signatures have been submitted to put an IRV charter amendment on the ballot this November. If adopted, St. Paul will become one of nearly two dozen cities, including Minneapolis to use the system

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