David Durenberger and David Schultz: Instant Runoff Voting would make every vote count
The principles of instant runoff voting are simple. It’s like going out to dinner and being offered various entrees. If you order beef as your first choice and the restaurant is out of beef then you ask for your second choice. You have ranked your dinner choices but you only eat one dinner.Instant runoff voting operates in a similar way. Voters go to the polls and rank candidates according to preferences. The candidate they most want elected is ranked first, their second choice, second, etc. If no candidate wins at least 50 percent of the vote then the candidate with the lowest vote total is dropped and the votes for that candidate are shifted to those voters’ second choice. This is repeated until a candidate emerges with a majority vote.Under instant runoff voting no one gets to vote twice. Voters rank their choices, but for each voter only one vote is counted.
In addition to ensuring winners have the support of a majority of voters, instant runoff voting has two important virtues: First, it addresses the wasted vote syndrome. In races with three or more candidates, some voters are afraid to vote for the candidate out of fear that a vote for that person leads to the election of the person they least like. Instant runoff voting addresses that problem with the ranking of candidates and the ability to have your vote transferred during the “instant” runoff to your second choice if your first choice does not win as one of the top two candidates. And second, instant runoff voting encourages the viability of all candidates, giving voters more choices on Election Day.Instant runoff voting has the potential for broadening the appeal of major-party candidates and encouraging viable third-party candidates.
Many Minnesotans of all
political parties support instant runoff voting. The Minnesota Republican Party
does not. In a March 22 commentary in the News Tribune (“Ranked-choice’ voting
saves time, money”), Republican Party Chairman Ron Carey said instant runoff
voting violates the principle of “one man, one vote.” Opponents of instant
runoff voting usually point to a 1915
Instant runoff voting gives you the right to two or more preferences for each office, but only one of your votes will be counted in each round of counting and in the final determination of the winning candidate. The 1915
Instant runoff voting is constitutional and represents an important reform that opens up more choices for voters.
David Durenberger served as senior United States