After an exhaustive two-year study that involved its entire membership, the League of Women Voters announced this week that the organization endorses Instant Runoff Voting for state and local elections. FairVote Minnesota worked with local units of the League across the state for several years leading up to this decision. FairVote Minnesota President Tony Solgård provided technical assistance in the preparation of the study.
Nearly all statewide elections since 1998 have been decided by less than a majority of the voters. This was cited in the League's statement as the primary concern leading to the study and the decision to support a voting method better suited to elections where there are more than two candidates for a single office.
The League's new policy position also supports the continued use of the predominant Plurality, or "First Past The Post," voting method. However, Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) had broader support in the League's survey of its members. In fact, 90 percent of the League members surveyed supported the adoption of Instant Runoff Voting for local elections.
"Interest in alternative voting systems in Minnesota is growing," declares the statement. Cited as evidence for this claim were several proposals in the Minnesota Legislature in recent years, including the City of Roseville's request to give IRV a one-time trial in a special election. None of the bills were enacted.
In the League's statement, LWVMN President Helen Palmer says, "At that time, LWVMN could not lobby for Instant Runoff Voting because we didn't have a position on it. Now that our grassroots membership has reached consensus on IRV, we look forward to our time-honored role of educating voters and working for a public policy issue that our members support."
"We look forward to working with the League to advance the cause of better democracy for Minnesotans," says FairVote Minnesota President Tony Solgård .
League of Women Voters organizations in several other states have already studied Instant Runoff Voting. Each has endorsed the voting method as well. The September 2004 study prepared by the Minnesota organization that led to this week's statement is available on line here.