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Cary Chosen to Test New Voting Method for Runoffs

Posted October 2, 2007

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— Wake County's elections officials have chosen the town of Cary as a test site for "instant runoff voting" that will allow voters to mark their first, second and third choice in a race in the event a runoff election is needed.

Only votes in the first column of the ballot are tallied on election night. If no one were to get a majority of votes, that would mean an instant runoff between the top two candidates.

"When we hand-sort those ballots, all the votes that were cast for the top two vote-getters are set aside, because those have already been counted," Cherie Poucher, with the Wake County Board of Elections, said.

Elections officials will then look at the second choices on the ballots cast for candidates who are now out of the race. Any marked for the top two is added to the election night total.

The winner gets a majority vote without a separate election.

Elections officials say by eliminating the need for a traditional runoff election, the town of Cary will save more than $60,000 and save voters a trip to the polls.

Voters in Hendersonville will also use the instant runoff voting method in November, and the North Carolina Board of Elections will evaluate how well it worked and report to lawmakers.

In Wake County, only Raleigh, Cary and the Board of Education races require a majority vote to win, which can lead to a runoff. Other towns use the plurality form of election in which the candidate with the most votes on Election Day wins.

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  • allaboutvoting Oct 4, 1:57 p.m.

    Links from my previous comment:

    http://minguo.info/election_methods/irv

    http://minguo.info/election_methods/approval_voting

  • allaboutvoting Oct 4, 1:55 p.m.

    Some serious issues:

    1. This is not instant runoff voting (aka IRV). It is truncated IRV. Truncation makes it behave even more poorly that IRV. Ballots will be exhausted and not be counted as part of the 'majority' that decides the winner in the final round.

    2: IRV is not a good election method.
    Some reasons are described here.

    3: The 'hook' of the proposal to use IRV is that you get to avoid paying for a (often poorly attended) runoff election. This is misleading as a runoff election was only needed when the winner of the election was not clearly superior. When there is a runoff there are fewer candidates and the candidates campaign in a different context. The public becomes more aware of who the remaining candidates are and makes their votes in light of that information.

    I am against IRV but support many other methods such as approval voting.

  • whatelseisnew Oct 3, 3:09 p.m.

    Well I do applaud this effort to save some money. I hope it works out.