Local Politics

Get ready to cast runner-up votes on November ballot

Posted September 17, 2010

— North Carolina will make election history in November when it becomes the first state in more than 70 years to attempt instant-runoff voting on a statewide basis.

In an instant runoff, voters not only pick a candidate for a particular office, they also select their second and third choices for the office. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the votes cast, the second- and third-place votes for the top two voter-getters are tallied to produce a winner.

The system is designed to prevent costly runoff elections by giving voters more choices.

"This is something that is new for everyone," said Gary Bartlett, executive director of the State Board of Elections.

Several communities across the country, including Cary, have tried instant-runoff voting, as have nations like Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. There's been no statewide attempt at instant runoffs in the U.S. since the 1930s.

Making the system work will require voter education and planning, Bartlett said.

"For the voter, it is instant. They go and they vote. As far as for the election officials, it's not instant," he said.

Instant runoff ballot N.C. to conduct instant runoffs on November ballot

Because there is no election software that immediately tabulates runoff tallies, some combination of machine and manual counting will be needed, he said.

Bartlett said it could take at least two weeks for a final tally. Critics said they think it could take even longer.

"Hope it doesn't lead to a meltdown, but it looks like it's going to," said Chris Telesca, a Raleigh resident who hosts a blog called "No IRV in NC."

Telesca predicted a host of problems, from verifying vote counts to confused voters.

"I don't think we could possibly do enough voter education for people to understand what's going on," he said.

Still, Damon Circosta, executive director of the North Carolina Center for Voter Education, said getting voters used to instant runoffs would boost participation in elections.

"You're going to see more participation in this instant-runoff voting than if we were to hold some sort of second primary in December. Nobody would show up," Circosta said.


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  • renaizzanceman Sep 17, 2010

    Hmmm 1st choice... none of the above... 2nd choice...Mickey Mouse... 3rd choice... Donald Duck...
    oh.. this is so much easier now!

  • Peace Love and Cold Meds Sep 17, 2010

    NC already made election history.
    When it allowed the most clueless Governor it's ever elected to take office!

  • MakoII Sep 17, 2010

    This is a smart thing. Saves our money, so we don't have to pay for run-off elections.

    What would be better is if we could put a choice of 1st, 2nd, 3rd next to every voter.

    That's a modern system developed that will allow a lot of power for 3rd party candidates.

    The Tea Party people would LOVE it, too.

  • North Carolina Home Sep 17, 2010

    kodac31...you are right. This is TOTALLY about the Judicial seats. If any of you are smelling rodents, your olafactory senses are functioning as they are supposed to do. Law suits will follow without question.

  • wat63 Sep 17, 2010

    "...This was hatched by the liberals and leftists as a way to keep conservatives from being elected."

    Really, please offer your explanation on this.... or is this what Uncle Sean told you to think.

  • bacchianm Sep 17, 2010

    And who decided this? Why werent we the citizens of NC given prior notice? More wool being pulled over our eyes?

  • kodac31 Sep 17, 2010

    This entire debacle of having 13 candidates running for 1 judicial seat could be avoided if the legislature would simply go back to the way it use to be done just a few years ago before the liberal democrats changed it because they were losing all the judge races. LEGISLATURES---> GO BACK TO PARTISAN JUDICIAL RACES! 1 REPUBLICAN VS. 1 DEMOCRAT FOR JUDICIAL SEATS!

  • OpenM1nd Sep 17, 2010

    Sorry -- nice idea, but it will most likely be too confusing.

    From what I've seen while working as a polls volunteer, voters have enough trouble following directions on the ballots in the existing system. (e.g. using checkmarks instead of coloring in the dots or connecting the lines, as illustrated.)

    As far as educating voters goes, good luck with that. Let me know how that works out. I've tried for years...

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Sep 17, 2010

    This was hatched by the liberals and leftists as a way to keep conservatives from being elected.

    Way to go North Carolina. One more reason that the state is going down hill quickly.

  • orionsteve Sep 17, 2010

    This is ridiculous. Leave it to NC to lead the way to stupidity. I have seen people voting that don't have a clue how to fill out a regular ballot let alone complicating it with this addition. Lawsuit central when a republican wins..Remeber the idiotts in Florida?